A CROSS-PARTY group of MPs has urged Boris Johnson to tackle the UK’s “dodgy international reputation” for enabling economic crime worldwide.

Members of two All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) on anti-corruption and responsible tax, and fair business banking that in the wake of the Pandora Papers and as the UK shapes its post-Brexit regulatory framework, the Government should have the ambition to host the most transparent financial sector in the world.

They said a Bill to prioritise economic crime would boost national security and improve Britain’s global reputation.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge and Tory member Kevin Hollinrake have united with more than 40 other cross-party members to call for the UK Government to include an Economic Crime Bill in this Parliamentary session.

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They say tackling economic crime in an effective and firm manner is now more important than ever. The recent Pandora Papers leak has shown there is inadequate transparency, regulation and resources in place to adequately enforce existing laws, let alone effectively tackle these severe issues.

They say the UK has a chance to regain its place as a world-leader in tackling illicit finance by building a transparent and fair financial system with robust, enforceable penalties.

Since 2019, they said the Government’s Economic Crime Plan has committed to tackling money laundering through the UK with a register of overseas entities that own UK property and reforms to Companies House.

In addition, they said making failure to prevent economic crime a criminal offence is currently under consultation with the Law Commission, but although legislation has been ready and waiting since 2018, it has yet to be prioritised.

Hodge who chairs the APPG on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax said: “Economic crime through the UK harms our global reputation, damages our tax receipts, and endangers our national security – the Integrated Review of defence highlighted the continuing risk to Britain's security and reputation from illicit finance.

“And now the recent Pandora Papers leak has once more placed Britain and our offshore tax havens right at the heart of the world’s dirty money crisis.

“The Government must grab this opportunity and urgently table legislation that will stop the abuse of UK property and companies for the purposes of economic crime. Transparency is vital as sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

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Hollinrake, co-chair of the APPG on Fair Business Banking, added: “For years now small business has been mistreated and exploited as banks stand by and watch.

“Making the failure to prevent economic crime a criminal offence is the wake-up call many financial institutions need to change company culture and build a fairer financial services sector that the UK can be proud of.

“We now have a short-term opportunity to ask for these robust and well-supported solutions to be brought forward in this session and end the ongoing damage that economic crime causes.”

Hollinrake and Hodge have submitted a motion on the issue to the Backbench Committee which meets on Monday, at which 11 SNP MPs are among those listed to speak.