We did not have to wait until the speeches delivered throughout the summit to learn that the government had changed its mind on extending the failure to prevent economic crime (see Blog, International anti-corruption summit and corporate accountability).
David Cameron announced this morning that he will counter claims that his campaign against international corruption is hobbled by London’s reputation as the money laundering capital of the world by introducing a new corporate offence for executives who fail to prevent fraud or money laundering inside their companies.
The prime minister revealed in the Guardian before today’s anti-corruption summit that by extending a corporate failure-to-prevent clause to fraud and money laundering, the government’s intention is to go further than merely requiring firms to prevent bribery and tax evasion. The intention being that if an employee or agent is charged with money laundering, the company will be deemed liable if it cannot show that it had put adequate procedures in place to prevent money laundering and fraud. This appears to be the second change of approach instigated by the leak of the Panama papers (see Blogs, Our man in Panama and The ripple effect of the Panama papers widens). The other was the introduction of a corporate liability offence for facilitating tax offences, see Legal update, Prime Minister’s Office brings forward introduction of corporate liability offence for facilitating tax offences.
David Green had repeated his request for the expansion of the failure to prevent offence at the Tackling Corruption Together Commonwealth conference, a conference for civil society, business and government leaders held on 11 May, ahead of today’s anti corruption summit. Invited participants underlined the fact that anti-corruption is a shared agenda for civil society, business and government, requiring commitments from companies, a space for civil society, and support for whistle-blowers.
The prime minister will also announce as part of today’s commitments that:
- Foreign companies that already hold or want to buy property in the UK will be forced to reveal who really owns them.
- 40 jurisdictions, including a number of Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies with major financial centres will automatically share beneficial ownership information.
- The UK will host the first ever International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre in London to strengthen cross-border investigations.