UK government spending could be 'battering ram for greater corporate transparency'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
28 July 2015

Prime minister David Cameron has announced a clampdown on corruption that could include forcing firms bidding for UK government contracts to state their true ownership.

In a speech in Singapore today during his tour of south east Asia Cameron said he wanted to increase transparency in the ownership of foreign companies investing in the UK.

“We will also look carefully at the case for insisting that any non-UK company wishing to bid on a contract with the UK government should also publicly state who really owns it, using the government’s buying power as a battering ram for greater corporate transparency around the world,” said Cameron.

He said there was £122 billion worth of property in England and Wales owned by offshore companies and that “some high-value properties – particularly in London – are being bought by people overseas through anonymous shell companies, some of them with plundered or laundered cash”.

“We need to stop corrupt officials or organised criminals using anonymous shell companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property, without being tracked down,” he said.

Cameron said an anti-corruption summit would be taking place in London next year.  “Corruption is one of the greatest enemies of progress in our time,” he said.

“Corruption runs completely counter to our values. It rewards those who don’t play by the rules. And it creates a system of patronage where the resources are shared out by a small elite while the majority are trapped in poverty, denied the benefits and proceeds of growth that are rightfully theirs.”

He added: “Over the long term it is societies that create and enforce simple, stable rules that will attract the high-value investment.

“This in turn means that instead of limiting their investment to low-value, low-risk parts of a supply chain, investors are prepared to risk more of their money and share more of their projects with partners and innovate more.”

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