New EU rules to combat organised crime and tax evasion backed by Lib Dem MEP's

March 11, 2014 4:55 PM

MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today voted on new EU rules to combat money laundering and tax evasion.

A new public register of companies will give authorities the tools they need to identify anonymous shell companies and opaque offshore trusts, making it far harder for fraudsters to evade tax and criminals to whitewash their dirty money.

South West England Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson, who was the lead Lib Dem negotiator on the legislation, commented:

"These new rules show how being in the EU means Britain can work with its neighbours to combat global challenges like tax evasion and organised crime."

"Money launderers and tax dodgers are stealing from the public purse - and we need to step up our game. Tax evasion alone is said to cost the UK economy £70bn per year. Liberal Democrats in Government have already clamped down on tax loopholes and clawed back billions from tax dodgers."

"Crime doesn't stop at borders and Liberal Democrats are fighting to protect British citizens by ensuring that law enforcement doesn't stop at borders either."

"Pulling out of the EU would weaken our ability to combat money-laundering and recover billions of pounds lost to the exchequer each year."

The proposals will also mean that bookmakers, casinos and the online gambling industry will have to do checks on people with big amounts of cash to make sure they are not criminals trying to launder the proceeds of crime. With the Cheltenham Festival currently in full swing and the Grand National around the corner, we are entering one of the busiest times of year for bookmakers. Sir Graham continued:

"Liberals have protected bookies from unnecessary red tape by making sure that they only have to do anti money laundering checks on winnings over £1700 (€2000) rather than everyone that walks into the shop. I am pleased that common sense has prevailed."