Saturday, 1 February 2014

4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive

David Cameron is clamping down on "phantom firms" in the UK, with One.org urging the govenment to:
"...deliver on the Prime Minister’s ambition, committing to make public information about who owns and controls companies, trusts and similar legal vehicles established in the UK, its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. This information should be available as open, machine-readable data, available free of charge, in line with the G8 Open Data Charter, in a public register, maintained by Companies House"

Meanwhile, in the international arena, Act.One.org comments that:
"Evidence from the World Bank demonstrates the role that such elusive entities play in facilitating corruption and money laundering, with more than 70% of corruption cases analysed found to involve anonymous shell companies. At a country level, by way of example, the Africa Progress Panel found that the Democratic Republic of Congo lost over $1.3bn – the equivalent of almost twice its combined health and education budgets – between 2010 and 2012 as a result of five dodgy deals in the mining sector, with those deals facilitated by Phantom Firms incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, along with other companies based in Bermuda, Jersey, Gibraltar and the UK."

What Act.One.org's petition is campaigning for is for MEPs to support the introduction of transparency legislation (to show publically who owns and controls companies and trusts) into the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive:
* Give citizens and journalists in developing countries access to the data they need to follow the money and root out corruption;
* Help to improve data quality by enabling more people to scrutinise the data, identify, check and correct inaccuracies;
* Enable banks and other financial institutions to perform due diligence more effectively;
* Ensure that businesses know who they are doing business with; and
* Contribute to more effective law enforcement – investigations, prosecutions and the return of stolen assets.

Apparently, France is also a supporter of these measures whilst Germany is against them.

BFTF signed the petition, emailed local MEP's asking for their stance on the issue, emailed the French Embassy to say thank you; and emailed the German Embassy to ask what they were playing at.

More info here


List of East Midlands MEPs here

Responses:

Derek Clark MEP(UKIP)
Responded with a communication that said it was unlikely that UKIP would support these aspects of the legislation because British laws already had the relevant measures in place and he did not think Europe could improve things. He explained the rationale for this view thus:

"There have been several issues over the last few years where we have voted against what seems to be a desirable directive. I have in mind for instance a recent measure regarding the protection of the victims of crime and another on the protection of children. We voted against both of those. That is because the UK already has those protections in place and the EU proposals would have brought about a lower level of protection. That means that those MEPs from Britain who supported those measures, and many did, were going for a reduction in the protections concerned."


Bill Newton Dunn MEP(Lib Dem)
Replied saying:
Presuming that the final (as amended) version is satisfactory, I definitely intend voting for it, as does my party.


Glenis Willmott MEP (Labour)
Replied with:
Labour MEPs strongly support the work of leading NGOs such as Christian Aid, Global Witness and the ONE campaign amongst others to introduce EU wide rules for public registries of beneficial owners of companies which will ensure companies are transparent and accountable to their local communities, particularly in the developing world.

My Labour colleague, Arlene McCarthy MEP, as Labour lead for Economic affairs in the European Parliament and Vice President of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, submitted amendments calling for these public registries. The report is due to be voted on in the Committee later this month and Labour, together with our Socialist and Democrat colleagues, will be working hard to get a majority in favour of this position. Support from Liberal Democrats, Conservative and UKIP MEPs will be key in getting a broad majority. Pressure also needs to be kept up on the UK Government to ensure its continued support of public registries in discussion with the other 27 member states.
Emma McClarkin MEP (Conservative)
Replied with:
"...This legislation is currently going through LIBE/ECON Committee and I hope that it will be adopted at plenary level before the European Elections this May...

...I wholeheartedly support the Prime Minister's efforts in this area....We are debating the exact nature of these registers and we will try to agree a text at the end of this month. If all goes according to plan we hope to begin inter-institutional negotiations in the Spring...

...Greater transparency is the key to tackling tax evasion and money laundering, but it must be done sensibly. I am interested in the criminal and justice aspects, such as closing legal loopholes, and closer cooperation at EU and International level. The benefits for law enforcement and the increased accountability are indeed positive, but we must balance that carefully in order to respect the new data protection rules which have also been agreed at Committee level late last year. We must also find a way in order to coordinate the registers at an EU level as effectively as possible...

...My Conservative colleague Timothy Kirkhope MEP is the co-Rapporteur on the Regulation and Shadow Rapporteur on the Directive that currently make up the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Package. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact either Mr Kirkhope or myself"
Further Communication:

Feb 2014 : Asked MEPs McLarkin,Wilmott and Dunn whether UKIP were right in saying that the EU proposals would result in a LOWER level of transparency in the UK.

Glenis Willmott MEP (Labour) tweeted back that "An EU law would bring the other 27 countries up to British standards: UK Gov already bringing in public company registers."

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