Thursday, October 24, 2019

Corruption in the billions

The multimillion pound spending habits of corrupt members of the global super-rich – including 421 luxury homes, three superyachts, seven private jets as well as elite private school fees and even hovercraft – have been revealed in a groundbreaking analysis of more than 400 money laundering and corruption cases.

Research by Transparency International, an anti-corruption campaign group, found more than £300bn of suspect funds have been funnelled through the UK banks, law firms and accountants. The cash often comes from corrupt officials’ embezzlement of hundreds of millions of pounds from poor countries’ state coffers before being spent on a £1m Cartier diamond ring, masterpiece art works from Sotheby’s, and a £50,000 Tom Ford crocodile-skin jacket with matching crocodile-skin handbag from Harrods  and was also found to have been spent on a £200,000 Bentley Bentayga driven by the 22-year-old son of the former prime minister of Moldova. His father, Vlad Filat, had been sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in the “theft of the century”.

One case revealed that a shell company called Airship Universal was used to buy a corporate box at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge for £126,000. In another case £34,827 was paid to a now-defunct hovercraft company in Kent. Private jets worth around £170m. Superyachts worth around £237m. Houses collectively worth £5bn

In its forensic analysis of more than 400 global bribery, corruption and money laundering cases in 116 countries, Transparency International’s At Your Service report found 582 UK firms or individuals had helped rich people bring suspect funds into the country. The money was paid through some 17,000 shell companies, 1,455 of which were registered to at the same serviced office above a wine bar in Birmingham.
Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK. “Now, for the first time, we have shed light on who these companies are and how they have become entangled in some of the biggest corruption scandals of our time."

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