British PM urges firm global stand on corruption

Mr David Cameron yesterday took a stand against corruption and urged the international community to do the same as he announced efforts to improve transparency and counter money laundering.

He said world leaders needed to show their resolve in tackling corruption as the world has "looked the other way for too long", adding that the issue was "at the heart of so many of the world's problems" - including hampering the global economy and hindering the fight against poverty.

"Corruption is one of the greatest enemies of progress in our time... We need to step up and tackle it," the British premier said.

He said Britain would step up efforts to ensure transparency on property ownership to prevent anonymous foreign shell companies from investing their ill-gotten gains in London property without being tracked down.

"With £122 billion (S$262 billion) of property in England and Wales owned via offshore companies, we know that some high-value properties - particularly in London - are being bought by people overseas through anonymous shell companies, some with plundered or laundered cash," he said.

"There is no place for dirty money in Britain. Indeed, there should be no place for dirty money elsewhere," he added.

As a first step to boosting transparency, the government was later this year set to publish for the first time Land Registry data on land and properties owned by foreign firms in England and Wales.

London is also looking at insisting that any foreign firm that wishes to bid for British government contracts should publicly state who its owners are, he added.

Mr Cameron yesterday also cited Singapore and Britain's shared values in the commitment to transparency and tackling corruption as he paid tribute to the efforts of the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew on this front. These values, he said, had helped boost investment in Singapore.

"It was his commitment to tackling corruption that helped to give people confidence to invest in this incredible country. And it is no coincidence that Singapore's climb to the top end of the global indices for anti-corruption and ease of doing business have gone hand-in- hand with its global success."

Idayu Suparto

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'British PM urges firm global stand on corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe