22 Nov 2018
A key figure in the $234 billion Danske Bank money laundering affair has hit out at the United Kingdom, highlighting the role of British company structures in what is considered to be the ‘biggest scandal in Europe.’
Whistleblower and former Danske employee Howard Wilkinson reportedly told European Union lawmakers on Wednesday that British limited liability partnerships were used to hide the beneficiaries of the payments.
“The role of the United Kingdom is an absolute disgrace. Limited liability partnerships and Scottish liability partnerships have been abused for absolutely years,” he said, quoted in Reuters.
Wilkinson’s remarks assert a common view in financial crime circles that London is the world’s money laundering capital.
A Transparency International executive direcor recently said the UK is used as a money laundering playground by oligarchs and other criminals.
The alleged prominence of British entities in the Danske scandal is similar to other major financial crime reports and data leaks, including the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, which also had a huge presence of British Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies, such as the British Virgin Islands and Isle of Man, respectively.
British officials acknowledge that possibly tens of billions are laundered annually through UK banks, but indicate that London is likely to be targeted by criminals given its prominence as a top global financial hub.
The government recently published its national strategy to crackdown on serious organised crime, including money laundering.
In May it also announced a plan to address the issue of money laundering through Scottish limited partnerships.
Asked to respond to whistleblower Wilkinson’s remarks that the UK is an ‘absolute disgrace,’ on Wednesday a National Crime Agency spokesman said: “The NCA is aware of the use of UK registered companies in this case and has related on-going operational activity.
“The threat posed by the use of UK company structures as a route for money laundering is widely recognised and the NCA is working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use them in this way.”
– Irene Madongo
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