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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, May 12, 2016 with No comments | Labels:

Anti-Money Laundering: Cameron to name secret foreign property owners
Foreign firms that own property in the UK will have to declare their assets publicly in a bid to stamp out money-laundering, the government says. Companies will have to be on a new register if they hold property or want to compete for government contracts. The register would mean "corrupt individuals and countries will no longer be able to move, launder and hide illicit funds through London's property market, and will not benefit from our public funds". Foreign companies owned about 100,000 properties in England and Wales and that more than 44,000 of these were in London. The move comes as Prime Minister David Cameron attempts to lead a wider effort to crack down on global corruption. World leaders gathered in London for a summit aimed at stepping up action to tackle the problem. Mr Cameron will also say that some of Britain's overseas territories and crown dependencies will join 33 other countries in agreeing to share automatically their own registers of company ownership, information that will be accessible to the police. But Jude Scott, the head of Cayman Finance, said the register would only be really effective if it was global and all G20 and international financial centres took part. Wayne Panton, the Cayman Islands' financial services minister, said a public register would also only work if the information was verified. He said the Cayman Islands had required company providers to collect and verify information for the past 15 years, but he ruled out putting it into the public domain. BBC NEWS

Blacklisted for 30 years: construction workers win up to £75m compensation from Balfour Beatty, McAlpine etc.
A long-running campaign to win compensation for construction workers who were blacklisted by firms for union activities has finally ended, with millions of pounds set to be paid out. Unite announced it had reached a settlement with construction companies which will see 256 workers receive more than £10m between them in compensation. The Unite union said payouts could range from £25,000 to £200,000 per claimant, depending on such factors as the loss of income and the seriousness of the defamation. But the GMB union, which reached a settlement last month, said it understood the total value of compensation in the case was around £75m for 771 claimants, with legal costs on both sides estimated at £25 million. Blacklisting came to light in 2009 when the Information Commissioner's Office seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out trade union and health and safety activists. Some of those on the list said they were denied work, while a handful moved abroad because they could not find jobs in this country. Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said: "In addition to financial compensation, admissions of guilt and formal apologies, the companies have agreed, as a result of this litigation, to issue guidance to site managers to ensure blacklisting is not occurring on a local level and to ensure that Unite members receive no less favourable treatment for job applications, as a result of this litigation." Tim Roache, GMB general secretary said: "We have secured £5.4 million of justice for the GMB members blacklisted by powerful construction companies who thought they were above the law. "For decades household name construction companies implemented an illegal blacklisting system, which denied a generation of trade union activists and health and safety reps an opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.” INDEPENDENT

'Dangerous' payday loans join guns and drugs on Google's banned ad list
Banning ads from payday lenders is a big move for Google, the most visited website in the world, against a massive and mostly legal market. Payday lending is a $46bn industry, and there are more payday loan storefronts in the US than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. The lenders – who generally give out small loans – use extremely high interest rates and target vulnerable, low-income communities, often entrapping people in circles of debt. “Financial services is an area we look at very closely because we want to protect users from deceptive or harmful financial products,” said David Graff, director of global product policy for Google. The ban will go into effect on 13 July 2016. Google will also no longer allow ads for loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue or ads for loans with an annual percentage rate (APR) of 36% or higher. Ads for payday loans appear not only on searches for lenders but also on related searches such as “I need money to pay rent.” “If you’re broke and search the internet for help, you should not be hit with ads for payday lenders charging 1,000% interest,” said Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Latinos, said the ban was an example of civil rights organizations and tech companies coming together “to help protect the rights of all Americans online”. GUARDIAN

Tenant evictions up in England and Wales
The number of households evicted from rental accommodation in England and Wales rose by 5% in the first three months of the year, while the repossession rate for homeowners fell to a record low. Seasonally adjusted figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show there were 10,732 repossessions of rented homes by bailiffs between January and March, up from 10,253 in the final three months of 2015. The number was, however, down on the 10,855 in the first quarter of 2015. Meanwhile, separate figures from banks and building societies show that the repossession rate among mortgage customers has fallen to its lowest level. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said 2,100 properties were repossessed by its members between January and March, made up of 1,500 homeowners and 600 buy-to-let borrowers. Since the financial crash the cost of servicing a mortgage has fallen significantly, with lenders cutting their standard variable rates as the base rate plummeted, and more recently launching record low rates for new customers. Lenders have also helped struggling borrowers stay in their homes. As a result, even during the recession the number of repossessions remained well below the peak of 75,540 recorded in 1991. While mortgage costs have fallen, rents in the private and social rented sectors have risen. The latest figures from rental referencing agency Homelet showed a 7.7% increase in the monthly rent for new private tenancies over the year to April. A cap on local housing allowance that came into force in April could lead to an increase in the number of social tenants who are evicted, warned the housing charity Shelter. Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Today’s figures are a painful reminder of the catastrophic impact welfare cuts and our drought of affordable homes are having on thousands of people in England.” GUARDIAN

UK industry in recession for third time in eight years
It is the third time UK industry has been in recession in eight years. Although industrial production rose 0.3% from February to March, it fell 0.4% both in the first three months of 2016 and in the last three of 2015. Compared with a year ago, manufacturing production in the first quarter fell 1.9%, the biggest fall since 2013. The biggest fall in output came from the basic iron and steel sector which saw production drop in March by 37.3% percent compared with a year earlier. Manufacturing and construction is proving to be a drag on the whole economy, helping slow UK economic growth from 0.6% in the last three months of 2015 to 0.4% between January and March, according to the ONS. BBC NEWS

Britain staring into a £309bn pension black hole with eight in ten final salary schemes in deficit
Figures from the Pension Protection Fund show 4,804 pension schemes now have a black hole – up from 4,679 a year ago and 80.1 per cent of the total. The issue has hit the headlines in recent weeks following the collapse of High Street chain BHS, which went into administration with a £571million black hole in its pension fund. The retirements of 134,000 steel workers are also at risk after Tata Steel put its UK operations up for sale. The PPF report shows that once the 1,141 pension schemes that are in surplus are included in the calculations, there is an aggregate deficit of £270.2billion, up from £230.8billion a year ago. The Pension Protection Fund pays compensation to members of eligible defined benefit pension schemes, when there is an insolvency and where there are insufficient assets in the pension scheme to cover pension costs. DAILY MAIL

389 LSE-listed companies are based in tax havens linked to UK
Research shows that 389 companies trading their shares in London are registered in British overseas territories or crown protectorates. The findings illustrate the scale of the relationship between the City and offshore tax havens, which were in the spotlight at David Cameron’s anti-corruption conference in London on Thursday. The prime minister has been under pressure to invoke special powers that would force British tax havens to end their fiercely protected secrecy since the emergence of the Panama Papers. The files leaked from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed the extent to which UK overseas territories, including the British Virgin Islands (BVI), were being used to hide money offshore. The overseas territories have said they will not sign up to central registers of beneficial ownership which would be available to the public and are one of the key demands of the charities and anti-corruption campaign groups eager to expose money launderers hiding their gains offshore. To counter the rising criticism, Cameron said all foreign companies buying property in the UK would be required to disclose their true owners in a public register for the first time, though this falls short of proposals for a central register. Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now, which produced the findings, said “If companies want to get the legitimacy and reputational enhancement of being listed on the London Stock Exchange, then they shouldn’t be allowed to be registered in known secrecy jurisdictions.” GUARDIAN

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