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Got some dirty money you want to hide? Come to London.

Criminals use the British financial system to hide hundreds of billions of pounds of illegal money each year.

What it means: Did you see the stories about the banker’s wife who spent $16 million in Harrods? She is being investigated because some people don't think she got that money legally. If so, you may wonder how on earth she thought she could get away with it (a $16 million shopping spree doesn’t exactly scream ‘subtle’). But it seems that, actually, most people using dodgy money in London do get away with it.

We’re pretty sure there must be an unspoken rule that people in economics and finance can never call something by a name that actually describes what it is. Take money laundering, which has absolutely nothing to do with laundry. It means making money you got illegally look legit.

London is a really good place for money laundering. That’s partly because there’s lots of normal money passing through it, so it’s easier to slip the dodgy stuff under the radar. And it’s partly because the parts of the British government that are supposed to sniff out and stop money laundering are apparently not very good at their job.

To be fair, it’s mostly not their fault. It takes lots of money and people to discover economic crimes, and the National Crime Agency (NCA) has neither. Its counterparts in Europe have hundreds of investigators; NCA has “a few dozen”. And it’s budget is too small for the work it needs to do, and getting smaller.

Some people think Britain should just leave financial criminals alone. They say the City (which hires lots of people and pays a tenth of the country’s taxes) is already going to lose money from Brexit, so can’t afford to get rid of the criminals’ money too.

And they’re worried that because a lot of money launderers also live and spend money in the UK (they like the universal language and good schools, appaz) that if Britain scares them all off house prices and the pound might fall in value. That might actually be good for some people, but not for homeowners, or British businesses and tourists wanting to sell/travel abroad.

Read our explainer on the financial system.

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Reader Comments

  • WhereAreTheVikings

    What a terrible, terrible shame. Western Civilization nurtured capitalism, and now capitalism is destroying it. And these young people seem to welcome the invasion of their homeland. The media and schools have been very efficient in wiping out all traces of blood and soil.

    • prollawalllynotahumanoid

      Capitalism isn’t the problem. It’s corrupt politicians taking bribes and kickbacks from Globalists and the Chinese.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        Maybe I should have said crony capitalism. Although Italians importing Chinese to make “Italian leather” shoes is not crony capitalism. It is capitalism, pure and simple.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          That would be crony capitalism and globalism combined. They aren’t concerned with the affect their policies have upon their citizens, the health and welfare of their society and culture or their economy. What it isn’t is fair-free trade to further national interests.

          • WhereAreTheVikings

            I’ve always seen them as one and the same, but perhaps they need to be named individually, just to bring home the point.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        But now that travel is so easy and borders are virtually down through H1bs and the like, theoretically you can’t blame capitalists for the pursuit of cheaper labor, although I do heartily blame them not being more patriotic than that. Perhaps the emerging nationalism will force them to voluntarily do what they should have morally been doing all along, and that is employing business practices that preserve their countries and nationalities. The government should be doing everything it can to encourage that, to the extent that small government should do anything but guard the borders and strictly, drastically, limit immigration.

      • Henry Lam

        It is China with its corrupted mindset affecting the world.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          No it is not. Capitalism is the fairest and least corrupt system of all.

          Socialism and communism is based on authoritarianism, coercion and police intimidation. It has and always will be rife with criminality, bribes and kickbacks.

          Corruption can be anywhere but it is the very basis of socialism and communism.

    • Henry Lam

      The government is too weak. They do not understand the mindset of communists and how they educate their people. Those communist people are only loyal to their country and could be dangerous. The immigration law should only accept those who accepted multiculturalism and taught from a democratic education system. This virus events clearly has shown how stupid to take China as a friend.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        The government is not too weak. Just weak-minded about some things.

  • Gabi Rodrigues

    For how many days can a country maximum close their borders to foreigners maximum? Like now, with the virus, everyone is using 30 days. Can it be more?