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.
On Wednesday 4 November the APPG, in partnership with CAFOD and ShareAction, hosted a roundtable discussion with experts and decision makers from the finance sector to discuss how industry can contribution to the delivery of governmental low carbon and development goals with integrity and transparency.
Attendees discussed how the UK could call for the International Organization of Securities Commissions to fulfil its mandate to implement an international standard for transparency of sustainability information on stock exchanges would be a positive step forward.
Parliamentarians also heard how the European Non-Financial Reporting Directive, which will soon be transposed into UK law, will need to include robust monitoring requirements so that customers and investors know whether companies implement the standards adequately.
The discussion considered how the open contracting principles, which already apply to UK government procurement, and argued that these principles should be extended to cover climate and development finance. Such a commitment could made in the next month under the UK’s 3rd National Action Plan under the Open Government Partnership.
In discussing the role of deterrents, speakers drew attention to the Serious Fraud Office and the perception that it is inadequately served by its ‘blockbuster’ funding arrangement. Speakers argued that the body needs to be sustainably and independently resourced, so that robust enforcement provides an effective deterrent to high-level bribery and corruption.
A full report of the event can be found here.
On Tuesday 3 November Stephen Pound MP moved that ‘ this House has considered the matter of prosecuting corporate economic crime’.
The adjournment debate drew attention to the government’s recent decision to drop Action 36 of the UK Anti-Corruption Plan. As revealed by a parliamentary question from APPG member, Byron Davies MP, the Ministry of Justice will not be introducing a new offence of corporate failure to prevent economic crime or widening corporate criminal liability.
Catherine McKinnell MP, former Chair of the APPG and Shadow Attorney General, spoke in the debate, voicing concern that the “recent announcement has caused much confusion among those who care about this issue, because it seems to be very much at odds with what they have been saying and the messages and signals they have been sending out”.
She also drew attention to the changes the government has made to the Senior Managers Regime, concluding that “Ministers urgently need to look again at their approach to tackling economic crime, because without change, the prospect of ensuring that justice is served to those who have mis-sold financial products, evaded tax, laundered money and defrauded seems as remote as ever, and the risk of the scandals of recent years being repeated has far from disappeared.”
Speaking for the government, the Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, responded: “Good results are being achieved in cases across the prosecuting authorities. We are giving active consideration to further changes where there is evidence that they are warranted, particularly in relation to tax evasion, but we remain open-minded if a case can be made broadly from a specific evidence base.”
The debate can be read in full here.
On Tuesday 3 November the APPG and Transparency International-UK screened ‘From Russia with Cash’, a documentary which shows an undercover journalist – ‘Boris’ – expose how London’s property boom is being partly fuelled by overseas buyers laundering money.
Following the screening Lord Watson of Invergowrie, Vice-Chair of the APPG, chaired a panel discussion which explored how the proceeds of corruption are invested in the UK’s property market and suggested policy solutions to prevent London from becoming a safe haven for the corrupt.
Roman Borisovich, otherwise known as ‘Boris’, Robert Barrington (TI-UK), Chido Dunn (Global Witness), and Mark Hayward (National Association of Estate Agents), universally welcomed the government’s announcement of a consultation into property ownership transparency but voiced concern that the consultation has been delayed.
The panel drew attention to other areas of weakness in the UK’s defences against money laundering in the real estate sector; chief among the concerns is that the industry is entirely unregulated – dodgy agents cannot be ‘struck off’. A
The APPG welcomes the government consultation and will be observing its outcomes closely.
Transparency International UK’s report Corruption on your Doorstep looks at how corrupt money is used to buy property in the UK by analysing data from the Land Registry and Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit. It can be read here.
A full report of the screening and discussion can be read here.
On Wednesday 21 October the Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP and Nigel Mills MP were elected co-Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption.
Following their election the Rt Hon Sir Eric Pickles MP addressed parliamentarians in his capacity as the government’s new Anti-Corruption Champion.
This is a significant year for anti-corruption efforts: over the summer the Prime Minister described corruption as the ‘cancer at the heart of so many of the world’s problems’, spoke of his ambitions to prevent the UK from becoming a safe haven for dirty cash, and announced an international anti-corruption summit to take place in London in 2016.
How the Champion manages cross-departmental measures to reduce the threat of corruption, and the UK’s vulnerability to it, will be key to bolstering the UK’s international leadership on this agenda in the year ahead.
Sir Eric, who is supported by the Joint Anti-Corruption Unit in the Cabinet Office, is primarily responsible for the implementation of the UK Anti-Corruption Plan. Sir Eric also has scope to pursue his personal priorities of tackling electoral fraud, stopping London from becoming a safe haven for illicit finance, and seeing corporate transparency measures implemented in the UK and Overseas Territories.
In a wide-ranging discussion the Champion updated members about the progress of the Anti-Corruption Plan, assured the APPG of the importance that the Prime Minister is attaching to the corporate transparency agenda, and took questions on the status of the Bribery Act guidance, the UK’s response to the FIFA scandal, party political funding, and the Senior Managers Regime which has recently been amended by the FCA.
Minutes are available here.
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.