A former Conservative minister, once at the heart of efforts to clamp down on money laundering in London, has revealed that during Theresa May’s premiership, No 10 “leant on him” when he tabled amendments to introduce a public register of overseas property owners.
Lord Faulks said he had first tried to put the register into the criminal finances bill in 2017 and then again into a government bill on money laundering in 2018. He had described the overseas ownership of “dirty money” in London as an obscenity.
Faulks, a distinguished barrister and now an independent peer, told the Guardian he was rung by Downing Street during May’s tenure and told to go to a meeting where he met civil servants from four government departments including the Foreign Office, business officials and the Home Office. They told him to drop the amendments – for which he had a voting majority in the Lords – because they assured him Whitehall had the issue in hand.
He told the Guardian:
“I was obviously misled because nothing has subsequently happened. I can only think a deluded desire to protect the City of London has led to all these delays.`
“It is a real irony that our reputation for protecting the rule of law is one of the things that attracts people who have very little regard for the rule of law themselves and come from countries which ignore it almost altogether.`