Pickles promises corruption clampdown

17 Oct 16

Former local government secretary Sir Eric Pickles has pledged that Britain will make tackling corruption, including in the public sector, a top priority as the country forges a new role in the world following Brexit.

In a speech to the anti-bribery and corruption forum in London on 13 October, Pickles highlighted that corruption undermines trust and confidence in both government and businesses.

“Around the world, huge sums of money that should be spent on vital public services – roads, schools and hospitals – end up in secret bank accounts, or spent on super-mansions and yachts instead. Such private gain, hollowed out of the public good, is an affront to social justice,” he said.

“And on our own doorstep, the recent corruption in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets resulted not just in rigged elections, but meant that funds for deprived communities were diverted towards partisan payments.”

Pickles, who is the government’s anti-corruption champion, said that following his re-appointment to the role by prime minister Theresa May, he would focus on developing public and private partnerships to tackle corruption.

The prime minister has deeply held convictions about the importance of fairness in our society and our economy, he stated. “So, while there may have been considerable political upheaval since the London Anti Corruption Summit in May, make no mistake. This government is absolutely committed to tacking corruption, money laundering and economic crime, working in partnership with the City and British businesses to identify risks, raise standards, and promote a level playing field globally.

“As we seek to make a success of Brexit; forge a bold, new positive role for ourselves in the world, tackling corruption and money laundering at home and abroad will be a top priority.”

Britain’s institutions and businesses have a good reputation for integrity and openness, Pickles said, but he would continue to push for greater transparency, resilience and effective law enforcement.

The Criminal Finances Bill, intended to “beef up” government’s ability to respond to money laundering, will strengthen the relationship between the public and private sectors, as well as making it easier for government to recover the proceeds of crime, including international corruption.

A stronger partnership between public and private sectors will be essential in delivering a step change in our response to economic crime, Pickles said.

“The Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce here in the City is a great example of effective innovation, trust and collaboration between banks and law enforcement is generating real results,” he added.

“This is not quick or easy, there are national issues and legislations to consider, but we believe that deeper engagement and cooperation will deliver the inroads into money laundering and corruption that we all want to see.”

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