.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Home Office in cash-for-passports scandal

I have recently finished reading Moneyland by Oliver Bullough, which goes into some detail as to how money is stolen from poor countries and stashed off-shore in tax havens, out of reach of those who might want to repatriate it or demand taxes on the money and assets.

In the book, Bullough shows how some countries sell passports to very rich people to enable them to remain out of reach of their home governments, and to facilitate their purchase of property, where their ill-gotten gains can be put to work. He also points out that the UK has a reputation as facilitating this sort of activity, despite the government's rhetoric of fighting corruption and money-laundering.

I was interested therefore in reading this article in the Sunday Times, in which they reveal that Russian and Chinese millionaires can buy access to British passports by exploiting a flawed Home Office scheme fast-tracking the super-rich.

They say that legal and financial advisers were filmed boasting about their role in securing scores of “golden visas” for millionaire foreign clients and offering to omit sensitive details from immigration officials, such as links to the inner circle of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and to the Chinese military:

The advisers told an undercover reporter they had helped secure golden visas for a member of the Gadaffi family, the son of a corrupt Thai government minister, an Egyptian charged with corruption, an Eritrean with possible links to military deals in Angola and millionaires from Iran and Iraq whose businesses were affected by sanctions. One said it was “easy-peasy” to get around Home Office anti- corruption checks, alleging that the officials who did the vetting were untrained school leavers who used Google searches. Some boasted of near-perfect records in helping clients through the process.

Secret filming by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches exposed how the Home Office conducts scant checks on wealthy foreigners who stump up £2m to obtain citizenship through the UK’s “golden visa” scheme.

The paper adds that unlike other nations, the UK does not ask visa applicants to pay any of the £2m sum to the government or stipulate that the money should create British jobs or boost areas of deprivation. It does not stop investors taking the money back offshore after they have secured the right to live permanently in Britain.

Dame Margaret Hodge MP, the former chairwoman of the public accounts select committee, is absolutely right when she says that: “It is scandalous how the hostile environment is treating asylum seekers in my constituency in a terrible way yet we are welcoming with open arms dirty money into Britain. We will never sustain economic prosperity on the back of dirty money.”

That the UK should be facilitating this sort of activity is scandalous.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?