Failure to Prevent an Economic Criminal Offence

Part of Criminal Finances Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 21st February 2017.

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Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Crime and Prevention) 4:45 pm, 21st February 2017

No, there is more.

The main point I want to make is that our Government should be at the forefront of the push to cast off the cloak of secrecy under which terrorists have previously been able to fund their attacks and gangsters have stored their ill-gotten gains. We should not be dragging our feet on this. Some of these jurisdictions, including the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, have hidden behind the fig leaf of the consultation.

I shall dispense with the rest of what I was going to say, but we wish to press new clause 17 to a Division—[Interruption.] If anyone had listened to me, they would know that I was largely talking about the Crown dependencies.

In conclusion, we could have gone all the way and become the gold standard for other Governments to follow. We could also have dealt with the public disquiet over perceived levels of tax evasion, which the former Prime Minister, to his credit, wanted to tackle. This massive oversight undermines not only the claims made by the former Member for Witney, but citizens in some of the poorest developing countries of the world, which are at the end of these complex supply chains of criminality. Those citizens are the main losers in all of this.

The Home Office’s press release that accompanied the publication of the Bill said that the new offences were aimed at

“sending out a clear message that anyone doing business in and with the UK must have the highest possible compliance standards.”

Although we agree with large parts of the Bill, it does, none the less, fall short. New clause 17, which Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition wish to press to a Division, would go some way towards addressing a number of these issues.