“Global Laundromat” scandal emphasises the need for strong EU action

Brussels, March 20 2017 Campaigners pushing for strong anti-money laundering measures say the “Global Laundromat” scandal shows just why the EU must take urgent action. 

Just as the EU is about to enter the final stages of negotiations over whether or not to ban anonymous trusts and shell companies, Eurodad (European Network on Debt and Development) says the scandal reveals why member states must ensure greater transparency around the ownership of companies and trusts.

Tonight [March 20], the Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung and several other European media revealed that secret shell companies, many of them registered in the UK, have been used to launder dirty money from Russia worth billions of dollars. The scandal covers the period 2010-2014 – before the UK introduced a public register of company owners. 

“How many scandals will it take before the EU Member States understand that we must put an end to anonymous trusts and shell companies,” said Tove Maria Ryding, Tax Coordinator at Eurodad. “As if the Panama Papers wasn’t enough, we now also see that laundered money from Russia has been brought straight in to the EU. If the EU wants to stop being a parking lot for dirty money, our governments have to start taking action.” 

“Right now, the EU is negotiating about whether or not to establish public registers that would allow EU citizens to know the names of people who own companies or trusts in the EU. It’s time for the EU to abolish this secrecy, which is so obviously being abused to launder dirty money,” she said.

With the trialogue negotiations over the Anti-Money Laundering Directive just about to start, the issue of transparency around ownership is the biggest question to be resolved. The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of transparency, but the EU Member States have so far taken the stand that no change is needed. The negotiations are scheduled to end before 1 July 2017.


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