Richard Murphy at Tax Research UK:
This is a quite extraordinary argument [made in Nicholas Soames’s reply to a constituent]. What it is suggesting is that:
a) That because Companies House is in the public sector it cannot be subject to anti-money laundering rules.
b) That Companies House has a duty to incorporate for anyone without question.
c) The prevention of money laundering is an unnecessary burden on business.
These claims are just wrong. The first claim is contradicted within the letter: it is a matter of choice that Companies House is not subject to anti-money laundering legislation.
This, then, destroys the second argument. It is also a matter of choice that Companies House must supposedly incorporate for anyone, whoever they are or are not and whatever their intentions. Clearly that could be changed if desired, and the letter admits it, so it is not true. And of course as a matter of fact it is already not true: Companies House cannot incorporate now for a person debarred from holding office as a director and so they already cannot incorporate at will. The claim is just wrong and shows that the failure to act is deliberate choice.
Third, if it was true that anti-money laundering regulation is a burden why has the government imposed this law on the private sector already? And does it really believe crime and tax evasion worth putting up with so incorporation can take place within an hour or two? If so, what does that say about their judgement and priorities?
Soames clearly got a briefing on this letter: what is written is not in the language of a constituency MP. What that briefing confirms is what I suggested in December: the UK government really is intent on promoting opportunity for money launderers and those committing related crimes, such as tax evasion.
Why is that?