“FURTHER measures” will be taken on the transparency of ownership of controversial Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs), the Scotland Secretary has said.

Alister Jack was challenged over the UK Government’s lack of action on SLPs, which allow owners of businesses to register their companies while remaining anonymous.

They are also renowned for being used to launder dirty cash and lend illegal businesses, such as arms dealers and criminal gangs, an air of credibility.

READ MORE: Tories stand Dennistoun candidate with interest in KKK commentator David Duke

We previously told it was claimed the shadowy business structures were tarnishing Scotland’s global brand.

The Scottish Secretary was challenged on why the Economic Crime Bill does not address reforms to Companies House which would lead to changes to SLPs.

Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said that reform of the UK’s company registrar is one of the most important ways to “clamp down on illicit Russian money and influence in the UK”.

He added: “Despite Labour’s attempts the Economic Crime Bill does not contain such reforms, it’s important because Scottish Limited Partnerships that were set up for Scottish farmers in the 19th century remain an outdated and opaque vehicle of ownership that are being used in the 21st century to obscure beneficial ownership.

The National:

Ian Murray asked the government if further action will be taken on SLPs

“There is widespread support for this change, but the Government refuses to act so will the Secretary of State commit now to reforming SLPs and wide company law so we can see who actually owns these companies and shut down these laundering loopholes?”

Jack said that the UK Government did “clamp down on the abuse” of SLPs in 2018.

READ MORE: Home Office 'obstructing Ukraine orphans coming to Scotland'

He added: “But we do want to do more and early in the next session of parliament there will be an updated Economic Crime Bill, and there will be further measures being taken.

“Because he’s absolutely right, those were being used by foreign individuals and foreign companies to launder money, we know that.

“The reforms in 2018 increased transparency and they put more stringent checks on the individuals who were forming those companies, but hopefully with support from the Labour Party we will tackle this in the next session of parliament.”

Jack was also challenged on an amendment passed by Scottish Labour in Holyrood while the Economic Crime Bill was being given legislative consent.

Murray asked the UK Government if it will remove the provision that means only land registered in Scotland before 2014 is covered by the legislation, whereas in England it goes back to 2004.

The Labour MP explained: “So if you’ve laundered Putin’s dirty money in Scotland before 2014 then you’re in the clear.

“For example, Perthshire Aberuchill Castle bought by Russian steel magnate Vladimir Lisin for over £5 million in 2005, who has been on the Treasury watch list since 2008, is not covered.

READ MORE: PMQs: Raab's defence of Boris Johnson Russian links has MPs in stitches - watch the clip

“Vladimir Romanov, who bought Heart of Midlothian football club in 2005 and swathes of central Edinburgh, and is allegedly hiding in Moscow under the protection of Putin, would not have been covered either, but they would have in England.

“So does the Secretary of State think that is right and what is he doing to implement the LCM amendment to sort this smugglers cove in Scotland?”

Jack (pictured below) said: “As regards the registration of property, it’s actually England and Wales changed the rules in 1999, in Scotland changed for transparency of ownership in 2014.

The National:

“The problem we have with the bill is if we go back before 2014 there is a risk that third parties who didn’t know they were engaging with an overseas entity that was non-compliant could be hurt, and that hurt is something they were unwillingly engaged in therefore we have to protect those third parties, so that’s the reason we haven’t gone back before 2014.

“The joint committee that reviewed the draft legislation did agree with that point, but I absolutely have every sympathy with the points he makes.”

In response, Murray said simply: “I’m sure that anomaly could be sorted in terms of making sure you don’t hurt unsuspecting third parties.”