Ill-gotten gains from Economic Crime

If the government needs to find money to pay for the pandemic, it's looking in the wrong place, says Jonathan Smith

It's six years since Boris Johnson promised to tackle the scandal of this country – especially London – being used by foreign billionaires and oligarchs to launder what is commonly termed “dirty money”.

Even back in 2016, the freedom given to economic criminals to operate with virtual impunity across the UK was regarded as a slur on the national reputation for probity. Now, after an unforgivable delay in bringing in effective rules and regulations, there can be no excuses left.

An Economic Crime Bill has been long-promised, and would help a lot to tackle this criminal activity; but it remains under wraps.Indeed, there are fears that, along with so many other of Boris’ “promises”, it might already have been ditched.

In his recent resignation letter, the Fraud Minister, Lord Agnew, said the decision to ditch the Bill was “foolish”. Is this U-turn at all surprising, when the whole culture at the heart of government is soft on sleaze, corruption, and dishonesty?

Our badly under-resourced NHS (with no sign of the promised, extra £350m per week from Brexit) would get a vital boost of funding from a stricter regime of monitoring illegal money laundering and tax avoidance schemes.

Instead of increasing national insurance – a cost-of-living burden on all of us – we should grab back the ill-gotten gains from those who practice the ‘dark arts’ of economic criminality.

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