Grave Secrecy was published in June 2011. It reveals evidence that numerous UK companies have been involved in a major money laundering scandal involving a Kyrgyzstan bank, and shows how urgent action is needed to address the current ease with which the UK and other major economies are used to launder the proceeds of corruption, tax evasion and other crimes.
The report exposes how billions of dollars of suspicious transactions at the Kyrgyz bank, AsiaUniversialBank (AUB), involved UK, New Zealand and Bulgaria-registered companies. It also highlights how corrupt money can be moved around the globe easily by using companies to hide your identity.
The report reveals:
- That three UK companies had $ 1.2 billion running through their accounts despite not being involved in any real business that Global Witness could ascertain.
- That the suspicious transactions went through many banks around the world, with the largest amounts passing through Citibank in New York, the UK’s Standard Chartered and Austria’s Raiffeisen Zentralbank. These banks continued their relationship despite the fact that in 2006 the Swiss bank UBS was sufficiently concerned about their relationship with the Kyrgyz bank that it broke off relations.
- That in one case, a dead person’s identity was used as the front for a UK company. While this person had died three years before the company was set up, his name was listed as a shareholder, and he even attended a company AGM.
Global Witness believes that information on the real beneficial owners of companies must be made public.