Facilitating the profiteering of international organised crime groups, the actions of corrupt elites and kleptocrats, and those funding efforts to undermine democracy
It seems somehow fitting to write on this topic on the day of final victory for the Brexiteers and their apologists – on Day One of a glorious, global Britain. It also seems fitting to focus on an especially egregious issue on the day when the lack of agency for Scotland’s electorate is shown up so starkly. We may read about such things with distaste and worse but we in Scotland can do precious little to make a contribution as a country to beneficial change whilst within the Union.
‘The UK remains a central problem in global illicit finance’
A ‘think tank ‘ with the trustees and advisors listed at the link below cannot but be characterised by a British ‘establishment’ viewpoint and patriotism. I write of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
So when RUSI even permits the following to be published on its website, albeit with a standard disclaimer of RUSI responsibility, it’s worthy of note – well at least by be me – and hopefully by you too – even if not by the British corporate media or the BBC.
The publication (15 December, 2020) I’m referring to is headlined: ‘Get Serious: Illicit Finance is a Threat to the US–UK Special Relationship’. It is written by Tom Keatinge of the US Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies. In it he examines some implications for the UK of the Biden presidency.
We learn that in a recent co-authored article Biden ‘laid out the ways in which Washington and other Western capitals should respond to the threat posed by illicit finance. … it should not escape the notice of readers – particularly those within the UK government – that the call to arms was not merely for a stronger response in the US, but also to all those responsible for the facilitation of illicit finance.’
I quote selectively to give a flavour of Keatinge’s assessment of the UK’s role:
‘..the lack of UK political direction on illicit finance is becoming painfully obvious.’
‘As an ally (of the USA) and leading global financial centre overseeing a network of enablers and financial tools that service kleptocrats and the corrupt, the UK should expect that much will be asked of it.’
‘.. the UK remains a central problem in global illicit finance, noted as a ‘higher-risk’ illicit finance jurisdiction by the US Financial Intelligence Unit (FinCEN) in recent leaks.’
‘… the deployment of sanctions does nothing to address the tools with which the UK furnishes those seeking to launder and hide their illicit gains…’
“.. many illicit finance scandals are covered with the UK’s financial fingerprints.’
Keatinge recognises that the Westminster government will be keen to build a positive relationship with the new US administration ‘against a background of Brexit disagreement and fragile credibility on the global stage’. He advises the following whilst re-affirming his view of the nature of the status quo in Tory Britain:
‘Honestly engaging with the threat of illicit finance and the role the UK plays in facilitating the profiteering of international organised crime groups, the actions of corrupt elites and kleptocrats, and those funding efforts to undermine democracy would certainly help.’
US and EU – the new ‘special relationship’?
And on twitter today an interesting perspective on these matters: this from the ‘Baker Street Herald’ (@bakerstherald ) musing on the development of new UK-US trade relationships: “they (i.e the USA) are aligning with the EU on this – so Brexit was for nothing it seems”!