Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Last year, Robert Barrington is Executive Director, Transparency International UK in an article said London has become the money laundering capital. Due to failure or intentional ignorance of the issue of huge inflow of black money and dirty money into Britain, London truly is now becoming the epicenter of black money. While we know about Jeremy Corbyn’s or many of his party comrade’s direct affiliation with anti-Semitic forces, very surprisingly, dodging the law enforcing and security agencies of the country, the United Kingdom is currently a safe haven for corrupt individuals looking launder the proceeds of their illicit wealth, enjoy a luxury lifestyle and cleanse their reputations. Surprisingly the UK economy sees trillions of pounds flow through it every single year. Inevitably most of this money is corrupt wealth – stolen public funds and bribes – which are given a seal of approval by passing through the UK.
Here we can cite the example of a sacked official of Bangladesh Armed Forces Shahid Uddin Khan smuggled out millions of dollars from Bangladesh to various countries including United Kingdom. In 2009, he invested one million Pounds in the United Kingdom in exchange of obtaining immigrant status under visa Tier 1, vide VAF No. 511702. The investment was made in the name of Shahid’s wife Farzana Anjum. The family has established a company named Zumana Investment & Holding Limited in the UK.
United Kingdom never enquired about the legality of the money Shahid and his family had invested, although it is learnt from various sources in Bangladesh that the family had never taken any permission from the Bangladesh Bank for repatriating such a huge amount of money.
In January 2019 it was learnt from various Bangladeshi newspaper reports that Shahid Uddin Khan and his family were actively involved into jihadist activities and were funding militancy groups such as Islamic State (ISIS).
Most interestingly, Shahid Uddin Khan, his wife Farzana Anjum and their daughters did not enter the United Kingdom with black money during the tenure of a Labour Party government. Instead, they had succeeded in entering the country and even getting a company registered right in London with the illegal money during the tenure of premiership of David Cameron and now the crime is continuing even in an enhanced pace under Prime Minister Theresa May’s governance.
According to media reports, the UK’s professional services industry plays a central role, unwitting and complicit, in this money laundering process. They help make corrupt wealth appear clean before it is invested into the UK or elsewhere.
Before corrupt wealth is laundered through the UK it is often moved through complex corporate structures based in secrecy jurisdictions. This includes the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, such as the British Virgin Islands and Jersey.
There are no public records of companies based in secrecy jurisdictions, which helps conceal the origin of their funds and information about their owners.
Once illicit wealth has been cleansed, the UK offers a range of opportunities for corrupt individuals to enjoy it: high-end property, sports clubs, legitimate businesses, residency visas, expensive cars, yachts, jewellery and art can all be purchased with impunity. At the moment the UK is recovering just a fraction of the corrupt wealth moving through its economy.
With the help of defamation lawyers and public relations experts corrupt individuals can start their life afresh and hide their past crimes. With the help of the UK’s exclusive educational institutions, they can embed their children in society’s élite and mix in the right social groups, gaining valuable access and influence.
Facilitating global corruption comes at a cost, both to the country where it occurs and to the UK.
There already is a call by the Transparency International (TI) for detecting, freezing, and seizing corrupt funds that moved through the UK economy. Britain can apply its existing laws for these purposes.
Corrupt individuals like Shahid Uddin Khan, his wife Farzana Anjum and their daughters deserve no sympathy from the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom, and this specific case should be immediately investigated and this corrupt and terror financing family should be deported from the United Kingdom forthwith.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter at @Salah_Shoaib