Corruption – it is a cancerous word that makes one think of several illegal and prohibited deeds, which at the end of the day favour the few, but effect the majority in a negative manner. And that is why many politicians strive to crack down corruption. Lately David Cameron, focused a great deal on this, especially since there have been more concerns that the London property market was being quite a safe haven for corrupt practices involving dirty money.
During his current trip in Southeast Asia, the Prime Minister talked a great deal about the need for anti-corruption practices and he emphasized the importance of such efforts. According to him this was one key measure to reach the UN’s anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals.
The Prime Minister also talked about concerns that quite a good number of UK properties were being bought by anonymous shell companies. There is a huge smell of corruption in these cases because of the suspicion of laundered cash. Mr. Cameron focused his talks on the need to go for a more transparent property ownership scheme in the UK, so as to fight off such unlawful practices.
One of the solutions is going to be the publication of information on any properties that were owned by foreign companies. These publications will be taken care of by the Land Registry and the first ones will commence as from next autumn. He also mentioned that the Government was going to engage in consultations so as to come up with additional ways to make property ownership more transparent.
Mr. Cameron stated that his wish was for the UK to be the most open country in the world for investment. However, he wanted that the money involved in this was not dirty money. There are over 100,000 property titles registered to overseas companies. More than 36,000 properties are owned by offshore firms. This results in a total of some £122bn.
Transparency International claimed that 75% of properties whose owners are under investigation for corruption, were actually making use of foreign companies so as to keep such property’s ownership undisclosed.
Mr. Cameron feels that corruption is directly linked to poverty. This in turn has an effect on the migrant crisis as well as lack of growth in some countries. The initiatives to fight corruption are being welcomed by campaign groups such as Transparency International and Global Witness. According to Transparency International spokespersons, it is crucial that other G20 nations embrace this challenge. Mr. Chido Dunn from Global Witness also commented on the need to put such measures into practice, because unless information of who of who is behind these companies is revealed, the money will keep coming, and the vicious circle will continue to revolve.
In one of Prime Minister’s Cameron’s speeches in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was mentioned. He died earlier this year, and according to Prime Minster Cameron, he was one of the most committed people who wanted to tackle corruption and move to a more transparent world.
Later on in his trip in Southeast Asia, Mr. Cameron will also be visiting Malaysia. It is here that his counterpart Najib Razak has been lately defending himself against allegations of corruption following an official investigation of an investment fund.