Brexit ‘creates unique opportunity’ for UK to combat corruption

17 Dec 18

Brexit will be a “unique opportunity” for the UK to work with international partners to combat corruption, the government has said.

The government published its updated anti-corruption strategy last week, to outline how it will contribute to the global fight against fraud and corruption by continuing working with global partners after it leaves the European Union.

It said “Brexit gives us the unique opportunity to position ourselves as a place to do business with integrity” outside of the European Union.

It added the government would “prioritise strengthening international cooperation and continue to work with partners to bolster global efforts to tackle corruption”, as it plans for the departure from the union.

John Penrose, MP and the prime minister's anti-corruption champion, said in the report: “Tackling corruption doesn’t just keep us all safe; it means our economy grows faster, creates a level playing field for our exporters and, as we leave the EU, shows the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain will remain an open, fair and trusted trading partner in future too.”

He added the government could make procurement rules simpler and more transparent after Brexit so “taxpayers get better value for money”.

Corruption is “best combatted” through international coordination and cooperation, the report said.

“Recognising that the UK cannot tackle corruption on its own and that creating a level playing field needs international cooperation and coordination, we will continue to work with our international partners,” it added. 

“This will contribute to global efforts to improve transparency and infrastructure to better combat corruption.”

The report said one way to tackle global corruption and improve transparency was to establish the details of beneficial ownerships.

The Registration of Overseas Entities Bill in the UK will be introduced to parliament in 2019, with a view to launch the register in 2021 and the government is working with other countries to do the same.

In October Penrose announced an international beneficial ownership transparency campaign at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Copenhagen.

He called on countries and organisations to work together and establish public company beneficial ownership registers as well.

Last year, the government first issued its anti corruption strategy 2017-2022, which aims to support national security, prosperity and public confidence in its institutions.

The report also highlighted the progress made since the strategy was published. Of the 134 commitments set out in the plan, 30 were due to be completed by the end of 2018. Of these, 25 were fully completed, two had been partially completed and one has been completed “in ways other than originally envisaged”, while two have not been completed.

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