This precious Union

Facilitating the profiteering of international organised crime groups, the actions of corrupt elites and kleptocrats, and those funding efforts to undermine democracy

By stewartb:

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 USUK 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”!

9 thoughts on “This precious Union

  1. I think this indicates what the real purpose of Brexit was – to serve the needs of the global financial ‘elite’ who use London as a money laundry. The EU is intending to bring in more stringent financial regulation and control and so the City wanted out so that it could continue to operate with minimal scrutiny.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. They didn’t factor in Trump being trumped which leaves their trumped up trade deal with the US of A in limbo.
    The world,unlike England’s Tories has moved on since the 18th century and big trading blocs now dominate global finance.
    The EU will not tolerate a treasure island infested with privateers right on their doorstep.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Staggering, jaw on the floor reading some of this, we all knew a bit about how the ‘UK’ operates, but it’s even worse than that. Here is Richard Murphy, his article about ‘free ports’ is very interesting, far as I remember reading, Aberdeen is in EngGov sights for such a thing. Given that marine policing is a UK EngGov power, it’s just a tad worrying.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting, but the ultimate point about Brexit is suspect, that owes much more to corporate desires to destroy the EU, Murdoch one of the most visible.
    London’s notoriety as international money launderer and facilitator long had a “blind-eye” turned by UK governments, what I gleaned from the RUSI quotes was continued reluctance to reform was already untenable, political change in the US merely reinforced the imperative.
    Gove’s recent musing on freeports demonstrates the Tory dream of expanding the dodgy finance franchise is alive and kicking, it will not end well for the UK if they succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The US has voted to increase Defence spending. The highest pro rata in the world. $740Billion. A third of all world spend. Instead of funding the US economy and the people. Health care etc.

    US multinational have an illegal monopoly and do not pay tax worldwide. The EU are going to stop tax evasion The Tories support tax evasion. Thatcher created tax havens and deregulated banking. Causing the banking crash. The bankers fund the Tory Party. Fraud and corruption. The UK the most unequal place in the world.


  6. The US Gov/States are going after the multinationals. Facebook, google etc. To break the illegal monopoly. Inquiries in Congress.


  7. I have always been amazed by the double standards of the UK. A mother shoplifting food for a hungry child or a stupid young man lifting a bottle of water from a broken shop front are instantly criminals to be shunned.

    However wear a suit and “divert” your workers pension funds OR siphon money that should be taxed to support your community and you will be rewarded with a Knighthood.

    White collar crime such as tax evasion and pension fraud cause far greater damage to the community and yet appear to be classed differently.

    If you have wealth you can even stay “legal” and work the system. The last two Labour PMs have a wonderful lifestyle funded by their “charities”. Guinness received legal aid during his trial because he had no assets…it was all in a trust fund. Only the little man pays taxes…as Trump would say!
    Interesting that discounted champagne in the Lords is not a taxable benefit but you try similar on your tax return!

    Steal a loaf and you are a criminal….straight to jail
    Steal a pension fund…you may get a letter asking you to please pay something back (but you can keep your Knighthood).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Only little people pay taxes” – was reportedly said by Leona Hemsley, who was a US hotelier (The same business as the Trumps.) She was called ‘The Queen of Mean.’ She was convicted of various fraudulent activities and sentenced to 16 years, but actually served only a few months in prison.

      You are right to mention Labour in this. Messrs Brown and Darling ‘saving the world – er- economy’ entailed giving shedloads of public money to very rich financiers to ‘rebuild their asset base’ (aka pay themselves more bonuses.) Whether they gained financially, personally, I do not know.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hard to know where to begin when talking about UK corruption.
    The video does not work for me. I recommend “How corrupt is Britain?” by David Whyte.

    The whole austerity thing corrupt? UK military solution in NI corrupt? The banking sector corrupt? Energy sector corrupt? Arms sales corrupt? Parliament corrupt? And so on

    Liked by 1 person

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