We are a group of UK Parliamentarians passionate about tackling domestic and international corruption.

The effects of corruption are profound, impacting the lives of both UK and global citizens.   This is why we believe we must play our part in tackling this issue and in ensuring that the UK is not complicit in corruption.

If you would like to know more about the APPG, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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EDM 275: Money laundering through London property market

On Wednesday 8 July Channel 4 screened ‘From Russia with Cash‘, a documentary which exposed the ease with which corrupt money can be invested in London’s most expensive properties.  In response,  APPG Secretary Mark Durkan MP tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for corporate transparency to be made a Land Registry requirement. Before the summer recess the EDM had been signed by 38 members from across the Commons.

In ‘From Russia With Cash’ two undercover reporters pose as Russian government officials looking to buy an upmarket property in London; despite being made aware that they are dealing with illicit funds, the estate agents involved agree to to continue with the potential purchase.

By law, all estate agents are required to submit ‘suspicious activity reports’ to the National Crime Agency if they have concerns that buyers are looking to invest cash obtained through criminal means.

However, recent research from Transparency International UK identified that in 2013-14 estate agents contributed to only 0.05% of all SARs submitted, which equated to a mere 179 reports. Quite clearly, this figure is not commensurate to the risks posed by money launderers to the UK property market.

The documentary and research from TIUK which identified over 36,000 London properties purchased by anonymous companies registered in offshore jurisdictions, reveal the extent to which London has become a safe haven for the corrupt.

EDM 275 calls for corporate transparency to be made a Land Registry requirement so that any foreign company intending to hold a property title in the UK will be held to the same standards of transparency required of UK registered companies. This measure would stop London from becoming a safe haven for the corrupt.

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APPG reconstituted for the new term

On Wednesday 1 July the APPG was formally reconstituted for the new Parliament.

Catherine McKinnell MP (Labour) was re-elected as Chair, Mark Durkan MP (SDLP) was re-elected as Secretary, and Baroness Stern (Cross-bench) and Pauline Latham OBE MP (Conservative) were re-elected as Vice-Chairs.

Joining the executive, Nigel Mills MP (Conservative),  Dr Paul Monaghan MP (SNP), Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Labour), and Lord Swraj Paul (Non-affiliated) were duly elected as Vice-Chairs.

Following the AGM the executive and fellow members of the APPG, including Byron Davies MP (Conservative), and Lord Jeff Rooker (Labour), were joined in a roundtable discussion by representatives of the anti-corruption community.

Policy experts from Transparency International UK, Global Witness, the ONE campaign, Christian Aid, RUSI, Hermes Investment Management, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Mazars LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright, Cooley LLP, Integrity Action, the National Crime Agency, Corruption Watch, Public Concern at Work, and the Bond Anti-Corruption Group raised a number of anti-corruption issues touching on the Anti-Corruption Plan, the integrity of international agreements, initiatives in developing countries, the need for extended corporate transparency and the enforcement of British legislation in the UK and overseas.

The ideas raised during the roundtable will be integrated into the APPG’s strategy for the year ahead.

If you would like to find out more about the work of the APPG and become part of the Group’s network of supporters, please get in touch with the Policy Officer.

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Prorogation of Parliament

From 30 March 2015 until the new government is formed after the General Election the Houses of Parliament will be prorogued. The APPG will not be active during this time.

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APPG co-Chair welcomes register to crackdown on anonymous companies, urges stronger action on OTs & CDs

On 24 March the House of Commons considered the amendments made in the Lords to the Small Business, Enterprise, and Employment Bill. The Bill, which legislates for a public register of Persons of Significant Control, is now within touching distance of receiving Royal Assent and becoming law. The register will be managed by Companies House and become operational in 2017 when it will ensure that kleptocrats can no longer hide their ill-gotten gains in anonymous companies registered in the UK.

During consideration the Anti-Corruption Champion, the Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, noted the many improvements that members in both Houses and from across different parties made to the register as the legislation passed through the Commons and Lords.

APPG members proved instrumental during the Lords stage of the Bill with APPG Vice-Chair Lord Phillips of Sudbury and APPG member Lord Watson of Invergowrie (pictured below) successfully tabling a series of amendments to safeguard public access to the Bill and strengthen the integrity of the data submitted to the register by companies.


In an article for Politics.co.uk APPG co-Chair Anas Sarwar MP welcomed the register but drew attention to the government’s lack of progress in persuading the UK’s Overseas Territories (OTs) and Crown Dependencies (CDs) to follow suit in shining a light on anonymous shell companies. Between $21-$32 trillion in private financial assets is held in tax havens, of this an estimated 25-30% originates from developing countries. These secrecy jurisdictions facilitate the illicit financial flows that see public budgets in low-income countries decimated.

Sarwar, who is shadow Minister for International Development, stated that a Labour government would ‘insist on the OTs and CDs introducing central, publicly accessible registers’ and ask the OECD to maintain an international blacklist of jurisdictions which ‘fail to cooperate in tackling financial crime’.

The article can be read in full here. The Bill documents, including amendments and Hansard records of the debates can be found here. Image courtesy of Christian Aid, 2015.

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Tessa Munt MP calls for investigation into British company’s actions in DRC

On Tuesday 24 February APPG Vice-Chair Tessa Munt MP led a Westminster Hall Debate calling for UK and US authorities to investigate claims that Soco International, a London-listed oil company, may have breached anti-corruption legislation in the course of its work in Africa’s oldest national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Analysis by Global Witness, based in part on undercover footage shot by the makers of the Oscar-nominated ‘Virunga’ documentary, showed that Soco and its contractors have made illicit payments, appear to have paid off armed rebels and talked dismissively about the ecosystem of Virunga National Park. Soco’s oil block overlaps with Virunga, a UNESCO World Heritage site in eastern Congo that is home to around a quarter of world’s remaining mountain gorillas.

Soco denies the allegations made against it in the documentary and in Global Witness’ report, Drillers in the Mist, saying in June 2014: “the Company operates in accordance with the Bribery Act 2010 and any allegation to the contrary is categorically denied.” It added: “[p]ayments to rebel groups have never been nor will ever be sanctioned by Soco”.

At Tuesday’s Westminster Hall debate Tessa Munt  said: “It is surely incumbent on the UK government and its agencies to ensure that any credible evidence of corruption and other criminal behaviour by a UK company, as we have here, is fully investigated by the relevant authorities.”

The APPG Vice-Chair explained that Soco’s American executive directors are employed by a Delawarer egistered subsidiary. As a result, she said, “these individuals fall within the jurisdiction of the United States, and there seems to be a case to be made that Soco International, under their stewardship, has breached the terms of America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

Anas Sarwar MP, APPG co-Chair, also raised concerns about the involvement of offshore companies in Soco’s corporate structure.

David Lidington MP, the Foreign Office Minister responding on behalf of the government, said that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office was aware of allegations against Soco and that he would look into the channels for exchanging information with US authorities.

“The government’s long-standing position has been and remains to oppose all oil exploration in Virunga National Park,” said Lidington, before adding that the UK would object to “any attempt by Soco to seek the redrawing of the boundaries of Virunga”. The
government supports an alternative economic vision for Virunga based on fisheries, ecotourism and hydropower, he added.

The debate, “Allegations of misconduct and human rights abuse by a British oil exploration firm in Democratic Republic of Congo”, can be watched here from 16:00:00.

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