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Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell raised the issue today at Treasury Questions where he demanded that the Tory Chancellor Phillip Hammond change the law to force political parties to hand back money found to have been received from corrupt sources.
McDonnell cited the current furore surrounding Lyca Mobile regarding reports that the Conservative Party refused to support an investigation by the French authorities into allegations of money laundering and tax fraud by the company, with a Tory spokesman citing the fact that Lyca Mobile were a major Tory donor as a reason for their refusal to cooperate.
To further compound the Tories’ reported complicity in the situation, the Buzzfeed report goes on to allege that government officials also refused formal requests by French authorities to carry out raids in London as part of the investigation.
And now, following a statement today on the government’s handling of money laundering and corrupt money in the UK, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell went on to ask the government:
“The people of this country are entitled to ask “why is this government soft on tax evaders and money launderers?”
But there’s another issue that has to be addressed today – highlighted by the allegations against Lyca Mobile.
Will the government bring forward legislation requiring any political party found to have accepted donations from money launderers or tax evaders to forfeit or return that money.”
At today's treasury questions I called on the Chancellor to change the law so that any political party found to have accepted donations from corrupt sources to return that money. I got a feeble response from a government soft money launderers and tax evaders.
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) May 22, 2018
However, replying on behalf of the Chancellor, The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, refused to bring forward any such legislation on corrupt political donations, saying:
“Obviously it’s impossible for a government Minister to comment on live cases, but what we will continue to do is use Paris to disrupt and pursue money launderers and terrorists. We will use the anti-corruption strategy. Will will use… the National Economic Crime Centre to pursue those who need pursuing, but we will do so within the rule of law, consistent with the values of this country.”
You can watch the exchange below:
Following the government’s shameless refusal to outlaw corrupt political donations, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said:
“Today the Government further confirmed that it doesn’t take clamping down on tax avoidance seriously.
The Tories could have shown they were prepared to change by simply agreeing to make it illegal for any political party to accept donations from money launderers and tax dodgers, and force them to return the money. But they refused.
The next Labour Government will implement thorough measures to crack down on tax dodging under our Tax Transparency and Enforcement Programme. Unlike the Conservatives, we will create a country and an economy that works for the many, not the few.”
The news comes as a Sunday Times Rich List revealed that 49 out of the 50 biggest individual political donations went to the Conservative Party:
This tells you everything you need to know about British politics.
The @Conservatives are bankrolled by the super rich. Labour's funding comes from thousands of small donations and trade union members.
We are building a people-powered movement to take on the rigged system. pic.twitter.com/oQhnZ2Tr40
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 14, 2018
Furthermore, the Tories have also recently been blasted for taking millions in donations from numerous Putin-cronies, including the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who accepted a staggering £160,000 to play a game of tennis with the wife of Putin’s former Finance Minister.