The Independent has first rate report on money laundering using UK front companies this morning. The report itself is detailed and well worth reading: billions of dollars of criminal money look to have entered the 'clean money' system as a result of the scam used.
From my point of view what is interesting is that the ease of access to UK companies, and the light touch regulation of them by Companies House and HM Revenue & Customs is fundamental to this criminal abuse, which the Independent makes clear is happening in the UK precisely because we choose to have that approach on these issues.
This has been a recurring theme of my work. My latest report on it is here. It's my belief that money launderers are not the only criminals to benefit: tax evaders in the UK do so too, at a cost to this country of tens of billions a year precisely because millions of companies exist virtually outside the law in the UK.
For the sake of enforcing the law, sending tax returns to all companies, enforcing their submission, improving company registration requirements and (of course) employing the staff to ensure that these regulations are complied with we chose to forego enough income for the government to solve the NHS funding crisis. That, I stress, is a choice by the government because we need not tolerate this crime.
Which opens up another possibility. Should there be a crime of criminal neglect to collect tax due and payable, only applicable to ministers and senior HRC officials responsible for such failures? I am quite sure that this crime is knowingly committed right now. Why should we let those committing it get away with it?