John Bercow contributions to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018


Tue 1st May 2018 Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [Lords] (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
21 interactions (5,374 words)

Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [Lords] Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Legislation Page: Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018

Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [Lords]

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
John Bercow Excerpts
Tuesday 1st May 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee.

Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Apr 2018, 9:04 p.m.

Before we begin with Government new clause 3, I want to refer to the procedure for this debate. As the House will know, I have decided not to use my discretion to select the late starred new clauses and amendments from the Government, which were tabled yesterday afternoon and which appeared in print for the first time only this morning.

New Clause 3

Periodic reports on exercise of power to make regulations under section 1

“(1) The Secretary of State must as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of each reporting period lay before Parliament a report which—

(a) specifies the regulations under section 1, if any, that were made in that reporting period,

(b) identifies which, if any, of those regulations—

(i) stated a relevant human rights purpose, or

(ii) amended or revoked regulations stating such a purpose,

(c) specifies any recommendations which in that reporting period were made by a Parliamentary Committee in connection with a relevant independent review, and

(d) includes a copy of any response to those recommendations which was made by the government to that Committee in that reporting period.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1)(d) requires a report under this section to contain anything the disclosure of which may, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, damage national security or international relations.

(3) For the purposes of this section the following are reporting periods—

(a) the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed (“the first reporting period”), and

(b) each period of 12 months that ends with an anniversary of the date when the first reporting period ends.

(4) For the purposes of this section—

(a) regulations “state” a purpose if the purpose is stated under section 1(3) in the regulations;

(b) a purpose is a “relevant human rights purpose” if, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, carrying out that purpose would provide accountability for or be a deterrent to gross violations of human rights.

(5) In this section—

“the government” means the government of the United Kingdom;

“gross violation of human rights” has the meaning given by section 1(6A);

a “Parliamentary Committee” means a committee of the House of Commons or a committee of the House of Lords or a joint committee of both Houses;

a “relevant independent review”, in relation to a Parliamentary Committee, means a consideration by that Committee of whether the power to make regulations under section 1 should be exercised in connection with a gross violation of human rights.”—(Sir Alan Duncan.)

This new clause requires periodic reports to be made about the use of the power to make sanctions regulations. A report must identify regulations relating to gross human rights violations. It must also specify any recommendations made by a Parliamentary Committee for use of that power in relation to such violations, and include the government’s response.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Minister for Europe and the Americas (Sir Alan Duncan) Hansard

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Apr 2018, 9:04 p.m.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 1—Scottish Limited Partnerships: partner requirement—

“(1) For the purposes of preventing money laundering, where a limited partnership registered in Scotland has general partners at least one of those must be a British citizen.

(2) Where a limited partnership registered in Scotland has limited partners at least one of those must be a British citizen.

(3) In this section—

a “limited partnership registered in Scotland” means a partnership registered under the Limited Partnerships Act 1907;

“British citizen” has the meaning given in part 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981.

“general partner” has the meaning given in section 4(2) of the Limited Partnership Act 1907;

“limited partner” has the meaning given in section 4(2A) of the Limited Partnership Act 1907”.

New clause 6—Public registers of beneficial ownership of companies registered in British Overseas Territories—

“(1) For the purposes of the detection, investigation or prevention of money laundering, the Secretary of State must provide all reasonable assistance to the governments of the British Overseas Territories to enable each of those governments to establish a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in each government’s jurisdiction.

(2) The Secretary of State must, no later than 31 December 2020, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the government of any British Overseas Territory that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies within its jurisdiction to do so.

(3) The draft Order in Council under subsection (2) must set out the form that the register must take.

(4) If an Order in Council contains requirements of a kind mentioned in subsection (2)—

(a) it must be laid before Parliament after being made, and

(b) if not approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament before the end of 28 days beginning with the day on which it is made, it ceases to have effect at the end of that period (but without that affecting the power to make a new Order under this section).

(5) In calculating a period of 28 days for the purposes of subsection (4), no account is to be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.

(6) For the purposes of this section, “British Overseas Territories” means a territory listed in Schedule 6 of the British Nationality Act 1981.

(7) For the purposes of this section, “a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies” means a register which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, provides information broadly equivalent to that available in accordance with the provisions of Part 21A of the Companies Act 2006.”

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to take steps to provide that British Overseas Territories establish publicly accessible registers of the beneficial ownership of companies.

New clause 14—Public registers of beneficial ownership of companies in the Crown Dependencies—

“(1) For the purpose of preventing money laundering, the Secretary of State must provide all reasonable assistance to the governments of the Crown Dependencies to enable each of those governments to establish a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in that government’s jurisdiction.

(2) The Secretary of State must, by the deadline set for the implementation of the European Union’s 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the government of any Crown Dependency that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership of companies within their jurisdiction to do so.

(3) The draft Order in Council under subsection (2)—

(a) must be laid before Parliament after being made, and

(b) if not approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament before the end of the 28 days beginning with the day on which it is made, ceases to have effect at the end of that period (but without that affecting the power to make a new Order).

(4) In calculating a period of 28 days for the purposes of subsection (4), no account is to be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than 4 days.

(5) For the purposes of this section, a “publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership of companies” means a register which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, provides information broadly equivalent to that available in accordance with the provisions of Part 21A of the Companies Act 2006 (information about people with significant control).

(6) For the purposes of this section, “Crown Dependency” means—

(a) any of the Channel Islands;

(b) the Isle of Man.”

New clause 19—Scottish Limited Partnerships: UK bank account requirement—

“(1) For the purposes of preventing money laundering, where a limited partnership registered in Scotland has general partners at least one of those must have an active UK bank account.

(2) Where a limited partnership registered in Scotland has limited partners at least one of those must have an active UK bank account.

(3) In this section—

a “limited partnership registered in Scotland” means a partnership registered under the Limited Partnerships Act 1907;

“general partner” has the meaning given in section 4(2) of the Limited Partnership Act 1907;

“limited partner” has the meaning given in section 4(2A) of the Limited Partnership Act 1907.”

Government amendments 10 to 12.

Amendment 32, in clause 1, page 2, line 17, at end insert—

“(i) further accountability for, or act as a deterrent to, the commission of a gross human rights abuse or violation.”

This amendment would enable sanctions to be made for the purpose of preventing, or in response to, a gross human rights abuse or violation.

Amendment 33, page 2, line 35, at end insert—

“(5A) In this section, conduct constitutes “the commission of a gross human rights abuse or violation” if each of the following three conditions is met.

(5B) The first condition is that—

(a) the conduct constitutes the torture of a person who has sought—

(i) to expose illegal activity carried out by a public official or a person acting in an official capacity, or

(ii) to obtain, exercise, defend or promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, or

(b) the conduct otherwise involves the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of such a person.

(5C) The second condition is that the conduct is carried out in consequence of that person having sought to do anything falling within subsection (2)(a)(i) or (ii).

(5D) The third condition is that the conduct is carried out—

(a) by a public official, or a person acting in an official capacity, in the performance or purported performance of his or her official duties, or

(b) by a person not falling within paragraph (a) at the instigation or with the consent or acquiescence—

(i) of a public official, or

(ii) of a person acting in an official capacity, who in instigating the conduct, or in consenting to or acquiescing in it, is acting in the performance or purported performance of his or her official duties.

(5E) Conduct that involves the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering on another person is conduct that constitutes torture for the purposes of subsection (2)(a).

(5F) It is immaterial whether the pain or suffering is physical or mental and whether it is caused by an act or omission”.

This amendment, which is consequential on Amendment 32, would define what constitutes the commission of a gross human rights abuse or violation. The commission of a gross human rights abuse or violation would include the torture of a person who had sought to expose the illegal activity of a public official, or the torture of a person who had sought to defend human rights or fundamental freedoms, by a public official or a person acting in an official capacity.

Government amendments 13 to 17.

Amendment 20, in clause 56, page 43, line 7, after first “1”, insert

“, section (Public registers of beneficial ownership of companies registered in British Overseas Territories)”.

This amendment is consequential on NC6.

Government amendment 18.

Amendment 31, in title, line 5 after “objectives”, insert

“or to further accountability for, or act as a deterrent to, the commission of a gross human rights abuse or violation”.

This amendment to the long title would be consequential on Amendment 32.

Sir Alan Duncan Hansard

This group contains new clauses and amendments regarding three related issues that I will discuss in turn: imposing sanctions for gross human rights violations, or what is now popularly known as the Magnitsky amendment; Scottish limited partnerships, which are of deep concern, particularly for the Scottish National party; and public registers of beneficial ownership in the overseas territories. In two of those areas, the Government are taking action to tackle abuses and tighten up standards: through Government amendments on Magnitsky and through a consultation document on Scottish limited partnerships.

Break in Debate

Bob Seely Portrait Mr Seely - Hansard
1 May 2018, 3:39 p.m.

Anything that helps us is important because we need to keep our society free of covert and malign influence. I was in the States last week, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and I am working with Congressmen there and in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, so that we can combine best practice. That is important because a counter-propaganda Bill is going through the United States Congress—do we need that here, etc.?

If I see information of this kind, I have a choice: I can disregard it and become complicit or, if it is genuine, I can put it in the public domain. It might be that Committees will wish to have access to this information, and I suspect that those who have it will provide it to any of the six Committees investigating Russia, if they wish to do so. It might be that Mr Chandler can provide a satisfactory explanation or argue that these relationships, if they existed, are now historical or have been misrepresented in the documents. I do not use privilege lightly, Mr Speaker. He might wish to offer evidence, written or oral, to any of those six Committees, whose work I am supporting, in a modest way, as secretary to the Russia steering group. I look forward to his response— I am quite sure there will be one.

I will be writing to the Prime Minister in the coming weeks to suggest further measures to strengthen our democracy and electoral system. The struggle of our generation is how we deal with authoritarian states and their actors, official or proxy, who use free and open societies to damage those free and open societies. We need to do something about it. Increasingly, Members now see that covert malign influence from authoritarian states, most commonly our friends in the Kremlin but also elsewhere, is a real and present danger to our nation, to our financial system—hence this debate—and to the transparency of our democracy and electoral system, not to mention the Kremlin’s ability to conduct acts of violence and murder on our soil. We have a duty to speak up and to use this House for the public good. That is what I am doing now.

Mr Speaker Hansard
1 May 2018, 3:41 p.m.

Order. I want to call several more colleagues and therefore there is a premium upon brevity.

Jo Swinson Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2018, 3:41 p.m.

Having listened to various hon. Members refer to the excellent briefing by Transparency International UK, I should declare an interest, as I am married to its director of policy—the briefings really are excellent.

Turning first to the Magnitsky amendments, I welcome Government amendments 10 and 13, which reflect the Prime Minister’s commitment of 14 March. After Second Reading, many of us felt rather less confident than previously that they would be forthcoming, so I am glad that the Government have brought them forward, given that the issue has been raised repeatedly. I am particularly reassured by the Minister’s confirmation that the lists of people sanctioned will be put in the public domain for anybody to see. I agree with others that that is a very important deterrent.

The importance of human rights and the part that our country plays in upholding them internationally cannot be overstated—they are vital. The hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) set out the horrendous case of Sergei Magnitsky and the horrendous lengths to which oligarchs will go to protect their ill-gotten gains. I was reminded, on the wider issue of corruption, that we are talking about not just numbers on spreadsheets, but people’s lives—this is literally a life and death matter. I recall planning a visit to Russia to investigate human rights abuses in Chechnya. We had to postpone the visit because the individual we had been organising it with, Natalya Estemirova, who was from a human rights organisation, was assassinated.

That followed the murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and last October we were shocked by the murder in Malta of the investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia. These people were murdered for investigating and exposing corruption and human rights abuses. I was particularly pleased to see the launch of the Daphne project in tribute to Daphne, with 45 reporters from 15 countries carrying on her work so that her stories will live on. One of the most powerful ways to send a message to anyone who would seek to silence those trying to uncover corruption is to make sure that what they were uncovering is finally exposed.

The Minister mentioned the consultation that was launched yesterday on Scottish limited partnerships. The very real problems that have arisen under those partnerships have been in the public domain for more than 18 months, and given that we as a country have been trying to lead on this in recent years, we need to be moving with much more alacrity. The hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr Sweeney) made an incredibly important point about enforcement. We need to ramp up Companies House’s ability to investigate, and that requires resources. Very good people there are trying to do a very good job, but given that 17,000 Scottish limited partnerships were registered to just 10 addresses, there are questions to be asked about how risk-based investigation and digital tools could be improved.

Break in Debate

Mr Geoffrey Cox Portrait Mr Cox - Hansard

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you know, at the conclusion of the debate on the amendments, I informed you that I wished to raise a point of order. I intervened on several occasions in the debate and I should have made it clear—as I would had you called me to speak—that I have on occasions practised in some of the Caribbean countries that formed the basis of our discussion in my capacity as a member of the Bar. I have done that for more than 20 years and I have a familiarity with those jurisdictions as a result.

The other matter I wish to raise is that before the commencement of the debate you informed us that you were not able to select the Government amendments. Can you clarify whether it was open to you to select those amendments, because you mentioned also that they had been submitted late? So that there should be no misunderstanding, especially outside the House, will you confirm that it would have been open to you, even though they were submitted late?

Mr Speaker Hansard

Yes. I do not wish to be unkind to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but—uncharacteristically for someone who is normally as fastidious and precise in his use of language and exegesis of what others say—he errs in quoting me. He said that I had indicated that I was not able to select the amendments. I accept that the error is inadvertent and not deliberate, but I never said that I was not able to select the amendments. I said at the outset that I had decided not to use my discretion to select the late starred new clauses and amendments from the Government, which were tabled yesterday afternoon and appeared in print for the first time only this morning. I absolutely accept that I have discretion in the matter, and I used that discretion as I thought right.

As for the other part of the hon. and learned Gentleman’s point of order, he was being most courteous in advising the House of that matter, but—and I do not mean this in any sense discourteously—I think it would be true to say that he was more interested in what he had to say to me and to the House than anything that I might have to say to him on the subject. He has made his point with force and clarity and I thank him for doing so.

Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell - Hansard

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance. New clause 6 has just passed in a spirit of cross-party co-operation. I find it interesting that the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) spoke so vigorously against the new clause. What can we do to ensure that Members who speak so vigorously against an amendment put their money—as we know, the DUP have rather a lot of it—where their mouth is, proverbially speaking?

Mr Speaker Hansard
1 May 2018, 4:50 p.m.

That is a somewhat tendentious attempt at a point of order, which is rather revealed by the hon. Lady’s grinning visage. The convention in this place is that votes should follow voice. Votes should not be in opposition to voice, but as to how the hon. Gentleman voted I do not know. If the hon. Lady is suggesting that he spoke on the matter in one direction and then did not vote, that is entirely up to the hon. Member. The hon. Member has not behaved improperly. The hon. Member may have irked the hon. Lady, but that is another matter. If it was in relation to an amendment on which there was no vote, there is nothing to be said—that is no matter for the Chair.

Mr Toby Perkins Portrait Toby Perkins - Hansard
1 May 2018, 4:50 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I made the hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr Cox) aware, as is the convention, that I intended to raise a point of order about the fact that he spoke very passionately in favour of the Cayman Islands when he has clearly, according to his own entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, done a lot of work on their behalf. That seems to have given him the opportunity to respond in advance to my point of order. Can you advise me, Mr Speaker, whether, on drawing the attention of the House to a particular entry, it makes any difference if a contribution is an intervention or at the start of a grandiose speech?

Mr Speaker Hansard
1 May 2018, 4:50 p.m.

I would not refer to a speech as grandiose—that is the hon. Gentleman’s choice of language—but the short answer is no. If a Member is intervening in a debate, whether by intervention or in the form of a full- blooded speech, the responsibility to declare an interest is unchanged. I feel that the hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr Cox) has clarified the position, which I think is appreciated, and I would like to leave it there. I thank him for what he has said.

Luke Graham Hansard

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Today is the 311th anniversary of the signing of the Act of Union between England, Wales and Scotland. May I seek the Chair’s advice on how we might mark this momentous occasion?

Mr Speaker Hansard
1 May 2018, 4:54 p.m.

I think the hon. Gentleman has achieved his objective. I gently point out that I still have propositions to put to the House and there is not a huge amount of time for the second group. I hope that that is the end to points of order. I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said.

Amendments made: Amendment 10, page 2, line 11, clause 1, at end insert—

“(ea) provide accountability for or be a deterrent to gross violations of human rights, or otherwise promote—

(i) compliance with international human rights law, or

(ii) respect for human rights,”.

This amendment makes clear that sanctions regulations can be made for the purpose of preventing, or in response to, a gross human rights abuse or violation.

Amendment 11, page 2, line 12, leave out “and human rights”.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 10.

Amendment 12, page 2, line 16, leave out “human rights,”.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 10.

Amendment 13, page 2, line 38, at end insert—

“(6A) In this Act any reference to a gross violation of human rights is to conduct which—

(a) constitutes, or

(b) is connected with,

the commission of a gross human rights abuse or violation; and whether conduct constitutes or is connected with the commission of such an abuse or violation is to be determined in accordance with section 241A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.”

This amendment establishes that “gross violation of human rights” includes the torture of a person, by a public official or a person in an official capacity, where the tortured person has sought to expose the illegal activity of a public official or to defend human rights or fundamental freedoms.

Amendment 14, page 3, line 3, after first “to” insert “(e), (ea) and (f) to”. —(Sir Alan Duncan.)

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 10.

Clause 2

Types of Sanction

Amendment made: 15, page 3, line 26, clause 2, after “to” insert “(e), (ea) and (f) to”. —(Sir Alan Duncan.)

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 10.

Clause 28

Review of Regulations

Amendment made: 16, page 22, line 25, clause 28, after “to” insert “(e), (ea) and (f) to”. —(Sir Alan Duncan.)

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 10.

Clause 40

Revocation and amendment of regulations under section 1

Amendment made: 17, page 31, line 39, clause 40, after “to” insert “(e), (ea) and (f) to”.—(Sir Alan Duncan.)

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 10.

Clause 56

Extent

Amendment made: 20, page 43, line 7, clause 56, after first “1”, insert “, section (Public registers of beneficial ownership of companies registered in British Overseas Territories)”.—(Dame Margaret Hodge.)

This amendment is consequential on NC6.

Clause 57

Commencement

Amendment made: 18, page 43, line 31, clause 57, at end insert—

“( ) section (Periodic reports on exercise of power to make regulations under section 1);”—(Sir Alan Duncan.)

This amendment has the effect that the commencement date of clause (Periodic reports on exercise of power to make regulations under section 1) is the day on which the Act is passed.

New Clause 4

Independent review of regulations with counter-terrorism purpose

‘(1) The Secretary of State must appoint a person to review the operation of such asset-freeze provisions of relevant regulations made by the Secretary of State as the Secretary of State may from time to time refer to that person.

(2) The Treasury must appoint a person to review the operation of such asset-freeze provisions of relevant regulations made by the Treasury as the Treasury may from time to time refer to that person.

(3) The persons appointed under subsection (1) and (2) may be the same person.

(4) In each calendar year, by 31 January—

(a) the person appointed under subsection (1) must notify the Secretary of State of what (if any) reviews under that subsection that person intends to carry out in that year, and

(b) the person appointed under subsection (2) must notify the Treasury of what (if any) reviews under that subsection that person intends to carry out in that year.

(5) Reviews of which notice is given under subsection (4) in a particular year—

(a) may not relate to any provisions that have not been referred before the giving of the notice, and

(b) must be completed during that year or as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of it.

(6) The person who conducts a review under this section must as soon as reasonably practicable after completing the review send a report on its outcome to—

(a) the Secretary of State, if the review is under subsection (1), or

(b) the Treasury, if the review is under subsection (2).

(7) On receiving a report under this section the Secretary of State or (as the case may be) the Treasury must lay a copy of it before Parliament.

(8) The Secretary of State may pay the expenses of a person who conducts a review under subsection (1) and also such allowances as the Secretary of State may determine.

(9) The Treasury may pay the expenses of a person who conducts a review under subsection (2) and also such allowances as the Treasury may determine.

(10) For the purposes of this section, regulations are “relevant regulations” if—

(a) they are regulations under section 1, and

(b) they state under section 1(3) at least one purpose which—

(i) is not compliance with a UN obligation or other international obligation, and

(ii) relates to counter-terrorism.

(11) A purpose “relates to counter-terrorism” if the report under section 2 in respect of the regulations indicated that, in the opinion of the appropriate Minister making them, the carrying out of that purpose would further the prevention of terrorism in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

(12) For the purposes of this section a provision of relevant regulations is an “asset-freeze provision” if and to the extent that it—

(a) imposes a prohibition or requirement for a purpose mentioned in section 3(1)(a), (b) or (d), or

(b) makes provision in connection with such a prohibition or requirement.

(13) If a provision is referred under this section which contains a designation power, any review under this section of the operation of that provision may not include a review of any decisions to designate under that power.”

This new clause requires the appointment of an independent reviewer to conduct reviews of sanctions regulations which impose asset-freezes or similar financial sanctions where the regulations are made for purposes relating to the prevention of terrorism and have been referred to the independent reviewer for review.—(John Glen.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

John Glen Portrait The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (John Glen) - Hansard

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr Speaker Hansard
1 May 2018, 4:53 p.m.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 5.

Government new clauses 15 to 17.

New clause 2—Companies House: due diligence and resources—

“(1) For the purposes of preventing money laundering, the Companies Act 2006 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 1061 (the registrar’s functions) after subsection (1) insert—

‘(1A) Functions directed by the Secretary of State under subsection (1)(b) must include due diligence on a person wishing to register a company.

(1B) In this section ‘due diligence’ has the same meaning as ‘customer due diligence measures’ in regulation 3 of the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (S.I. 692/2017).”

(3) In section 1063 (Fees payable to the registrar), in subsection (2)(a) after ‘Secretary of State’ insert ‘including the duty of due diligence under section 1061(1A).’”

This new clause would amend the duties of Companies House to ensure that any person wishing to register a company must be checked for due diligence by Companies House, in line with the measures included in the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. It also ensures that the Secretary of State can charge fees for due diligence checks to cover costs incurred by Companies House.

New clause 7—Money laundering exemptions—

“The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (S.I. 2017/692) are exempted from amendment or revocation under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.”

This new clause would prevent any amendment or repeal of the 2017 Money Laundering Regulations via powers contained in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

New clause 8—Public register of beneficial owners of overseas entities—

“(1) The Secretary of State must, in addition to the provisions made under paragraph 6 of Schedule 2, create a public register of beneficial ownership information for companies and other legal entities registered outside of the UK that own or buy UK property, or bid for UK government contracts.

(2) The register must be implemented within 12 months of the day on which this Act is passed.

(3) For the purposes of this section ‘a register of beneficial ownership for companies and other legal entities registered outside of the UK’ means a public register—

(a) which contains information about overseas entities and persons with significant control over them, and

(b) which in the opinion of the Secretary of State will assist in the prevention of money laundering.”

This new clause would create a public register of beneficial ownership information for companies and other legal entities outside of the UK that own or buy UK property, or bid for UK government contracts, within 12 months.

New clause 10—Parliamentary committee to scrutinise regulations—

“(1) A Minister may not lay before Parliament a statutory instrument under section 49(5) unless a Committee of the House of Commons charged with scrutinising statutory instruments made under this Act has recommended that the instrument be laid.

(2) The committee of the House of Commons so charged under subsection (1) may scrutinise any reviews carried out under section 28 of this Act.”

This new clause would require a specialised House of Commons Committee to approve all statutory instruments laid under the affirmative procedure under this Act. The Committee would also scrutinise the Government’s reviews of sanctions regulations.

New clause 11—Failure to prevent money laundering—

“(1) A relevant body (B) is guilty of an offence if a person commits a money laundering facilitation offence when acting in the capacity of a person associated with B.

(2) For the purposes of this section “money laundering facilitation offence” means—

(a) concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal property under section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (concealing etc);

(b) entering into an arrangement which the person knows, or suspects, facilitates (by whatever means) the acquisition, retention, use, or control of criminal property under section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (arrangements); or

(c) the acquisition, use or possession of criminal property, under section 329 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (acquisition, use and possession).

(3) It is a defence for B to prove that, when the money laundering facilitation offence was committed, B had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent persons acting in the capacity of a person associated with B from committing such an offence.

(4) A relevant body guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine;

(b) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to a fine; or

(c) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

(5) It is immaterial for the purposes of this section whether—

(a) any relevant conduct of a relevant body, or

(b) any conduct which constitutes part of a relevant criminal offence,

takes place in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

(6) In this section, ‘relevant body’ and ‘acting in the capacity of a person associated with B’ have the same meaning as in section 44 of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 (meaning of relevant body and acting in the capacity of an associated person).”

This new clause would make it an offence if a relevant body failed to put in place adequate procedures to prevent a person associated with it from carrying out a money laundering facilitation offence. A money laundering facilitation offence would include concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal property under section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

New clause 12—Public register of beneficial ownership of trusts and similar legal arrangements—

“(none) The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 are amended by leaving out paragraph (12) of regulation 45 (Register of beneficial ownership) and inserting—

‘(12) The Commissioners must ensure that the register is published.’.”

This new clause would require the Government to publish the register of beneficial ownership of trusts and similar legal arrangements on the day this Act is passed.

New clause 13—Due diligence—

“(1) For the purposes of preventing money laundering, when a company is formed, any company formation agent providing formation services must ensure that the identity and business risk profile of all beneficial owners of the company are established in accordance with—

(a) the customer due diligence measures under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (S.I. 2017/692),

(b) regulations made under section 44 of this Act, or

(c) the Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on anti-money laundering measures.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), Companies House is to be treated as a ‘company formation agent’.”

This new clause would ensure that when a company is formed in the UK, the relevant formation services must identify the beneficial owners of the company. It will also treat Companies House as a “company formation agent”, ensuring that the data on the public register of beneficial ownership for companies is accurate.

New clause 18—Winding up companies of designated persons—

“(1) The Secretary of State may, in respect of a designated person subject to sanctions regulations under this Act—

(a) present a petition under section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 to wind up a company owned or controlled by a designated person; and

(b) make a disqualification order under section 8 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 against a designated person who is or has been a director or shadow director of a company or an overseas company.

(2) In this section, ‘company’ means a company registered under the Companies Act 2006 in the United Kingdom or a company that may be wound up under Part 5 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (unregistered companies).

(3) In this section, ‘overseas company’ means a company incorporated or formed outside the United Kingdom”.

This new clause would ensure the Secretary of State could close down companies owned or controlled by a person subject to sanctions under this Act using the pre-existing powers in the Insolvency Act 1986 and Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

New clause 20—Periodic review of exercise of powers and operation of Act—

“(1) As soon as reasonably practicable after the end of—

(a) the period of six months beginning with the day this Act is passed, and

(b) every 12 month period which ends with the first or subsequent anniversary of the end of the period mentioned in the preceding paragraph,

(2) Subject to issues of confidentiality the said report shall include a summary of any representations made in relation to the exercise or proposed exercise of the powers and the response of the appropriate Minister to the same.

(4) The Independent Reviewer appointed pursuant to section 20 of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (‘the 2011 Act’) shall include a review of the operation of this Act in the reports by the Independent Reviewer produced pursuant to the 2011 Act.”

This new clause would require a periodic review of the exercise of the powers and operation of this Act six months after Royal Assent and every 12 months thereafter.

Amendment 1, page 1, line 8, clause 1, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”.

Amendment 2, page 2, line 17, at end insert—

“(i) further the prevention of organised crime, or

(j) further the prevention of human trafficking.”

Government amendment 23.

Amendment 29, page 15, line 4, clause 15, at end insert—

“(i) provide for the procedure to be followed for an application for an exception or licence”.

This amendment would ensure that the regulations will include a procedure for applying for an exception or for a licence.

Government amendment 24.

Amendment 3, page 20, line 12, clause 22, leave out “3 years” and insert “12 months”.

Amendment 4, page 20, line 14, leave out “3 years” and insert “12 months”.

Amendment 5, page 21, line 36, clause 26, leave out “3 years” and insert “12 months”.

Amendment 6, page 21, line 38, leave out “3 years” and insert “12 months”.

Amendment 7, page 31, line 12, clause 38, leave out “may include guidance about—” and insert “must include, but is not limited to, guidance about—”.

Amendment 8, page 31, line 15, at end insert—

‘(3) The appropriate Minister must review the guidance issued under this section and lay a report before Parliament every 12 months.”

Government amendment 25.

Amendment 21, page 36, line 8, clause 48, leave out paragraph (a).

This amendment would remove paragraph 2(a) from Clause 48, which enables the appropriate Minister to amend, repeal or revoke enactments for regulations under section 1 or 44 using Henry VIII powers.

Amendment 9, page 37, line 27, clause 49, at end insert—

“(5A) A statutory instrument containing regulations under section 1 that repeals, revokes or amends—

(a) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

(b) a Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales, or

(c) Northern Ireland legislation,

must receive the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly, respectively.”

This amendment would require the UK Government to obtain the consent of the devolved administrations before repealing, revoking or amending devolved legislation using a statutory instrument containing regulations under section 1.

Amendment 22, page 39, line 4, clause 51, leave out subsection (3).

This amendment would remove subsection (3) of Clause 51, which states that if a reporting provision is not complied with, the appropriate Minister must publish a written statement explaining why that Minister failed to comply with it.

Government amendments 26 and 19.

Amendment 30, page 59, line 5, schedule 3, at end insert—

“Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980

‘(4) The Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 is amended as follows.

(5) Section 34(1)(d) is repealed.

(6) In section 35(1), after paragraph (c) insert—

(cc) as to the way in which solicitors and incorporated practices are to comply with the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017”.”.

This amendment would amend the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980, ensuring it is consistent with this Act.

Amendment 27, page 59, line 14, at end insert—

“Insolvency Act 1986 (c. 45)

‘(1) In section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 (petition for winding up on grounds of public interest), after paragraph (1)(d) insert—

(e) any information notified to the Secretary of State pursuant to regulations made under section 1 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.’”

This amendment, which is consequential on NC18, would amend the Insolvency Act 1986 to ensure it is consistent with this Act.

Amendment 28, page 59, line 14, at end insert—

“Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (c. 46)

‘(1) In section 8 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (Disqualification of director on finding of unfitness), after paragraph (1) insert—

(1A) The Secretary of State may apply to the court for a disqualification order to disqualify a person who is, or has been, a director or shadow director of a company, if that person is subject to regulations made under section 1 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.’”

This amendment, which is consequential on NC18, would amend the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 to ensure it is consistent with this Act.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2018, 4:54 p.m.

It is my privilege to address the second group of amendments, but before I do I would just like to acknowledge, as the hon. Member for Salisbury, the good will from across the House in light of the events of 4 March. With respect to the previous debate, I would like to acknowledge the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon), the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) and, in particular, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe and the Americas, who has done so much to come up with an outcome, which we have just expressed, that will mean a great deal to my constituents in Salisbury.

New clauses 2 and 13 aim to improve the quality of information on our company register. The Government believe that they would do so at a significant cost to UK business and would require considerable consequential change to the UK company law system for the measure to function. Companies House is taking active steps to improve the quality of data on the register. It has already increased its resourcing to support these investigations and more is being sought. Since the start of March, the first tranche of cases of non-compliance with beneficial ownership registration requirements were passed from Companies House to the Insolvency Service. The cases will form the basis of the first prosecutions for non-compliance with such requirements and should be prosecuted shortly.

New clause 18 and amendments 27 and 28, which were tabled by the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle), allow for action to be taken against so-called brass-plate companies that breach sanctions. The reason that brass-plate companies have not been prosecuted or wound up relates to the challenges of collecting evidence of their activities, not a lack of legal powers. I look forward to hearing what he has to say, but the amendments do not provide any enhanced ability to take action against such companies. We continue to explore with partners across Government whether we could do more to address this issue, so I hope that in due course, hon. Members will agree to withdraw this set of amendments.

I now turn to amendment 19, to which new clause 5 has a similar purpose. These proposals seek to clarify the interaction of powers in the Bill with the provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. New clause 7 seeks to constrain the powers of future Governments to amend the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017. However, the powers in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill are necessary to ensure a functioning statute book immediately after the UK ceases to be a member of the EU.

Amendment 30 seeks to amend the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 to give the Law Society of Scotland greater powers to conduct its role as an anti-money laundering supervisor. The Government strongly support all supervisors having adequate powers to effectively monitor and take measures to ensure compliance from their members and to use proportionate and dissuasive sanctions when their members do not comply with the rules. The Law Society of Scotland has raised with Treasury officials the issues that it would like to amend in legislation. They are looking closely at this issue and will continue to work with the Law Society of Scotland to address it. I therefore respectfully ask the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) not to press that amendment, but no doubt we will have a discussion in due course.

New clause 8, on beneficial ownership, seeks to set down in legislation an obligation to implement, within 12 months of the Bill getting Royal Assent, our commitment to establishing a public register of company beneficial ownership of overseas companies that own or buy property in the UK. The UK was the first country in the G20 to establish a public register of company beneficial ownership, and Transparency International concluded that we are one of just three G20 countries with a “very strong” legal framework around beneficial ownership.

Let me be clear to the House that the Government are committed to establishing this register and to bringing increased transparency to UK property ownership. The Government committed in January to publishing a draft Bill before the summer recess, and we recently published our response to the call for evidence. We will legislate early in the next parliamentary Session to establish the register by 2021. We will be the first country to establish the register and it is important to get it right.

New clause 12 would require HMRC’s register of trusts that generate UK tax consequences to be published. Information held on the register is accessible to law enforcement agencies and allows them to readily draw together information on trusts, including offshore trusts, when they generate a UK tax consequence. However, trusts, unlike companies, do not have any independent legal personality in their own right. They are frequently established for legitimate and highly personal reasons, such as protecting assets for children or vulnerable adults. Placing this information into the public domain would infringe the privacy rights of trust beneficial owners and needlessly publicise the financial affairs of vulnerable people for whom trusts are established. I therefore ask Members not to press those amendments.

New clause 11 seeks to create a corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent money laundering, which is not necessary because of reforms to the anti-money laundering regime already in place. The proposed offence is substantively available in respect of firms regulated for anti-money laundering purposes by the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, which require regulated firms to have policies, controls and procedures to mitigate and manage risks of money laundering and terrorist financing. Failure to comply with these requirements is already a criminal offence.