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The Tower a monument to corruption, says Labour peer Lord Collins

Published 26/05/2016

Lord Collins said two-thirds of homes in The Tower are in foreign ownership, while a quarter are held through secretive offshore companies
Lord Collins said two-thirds of homes in The Tower are in foreign ownership, while a quarter are held through secretive offshore companies

Britain's tallest residential skyscraper has been likened to a monument to corruption by a Labour peer.

Opposition spokesman Lord Collins of Highbury said two-thirds of homes in The Tower, a 50-storey apartment complex on the River Thames, are in foreign ownership, while a quarter are held through secretive offshore companies based in tax havens.

He warned that failure by the Government to take action on transparency in British overseas territories would lead to "even more monuments down our river front to this corruption".

But the Government insisted "huge progress" has been made and pointed out a register is to be created of foreign companies owning property in the UK.

Pressing for public registers of beneficial ownership in the overseas territories, Lord Collins said: "Transparency is the key to tackling corruption.

"How can we demonstrate our leadership in the battle against corruption when our territories are the biggest facilitators of it?

"Public registers are what is required.

"We only have to look down the river to St George's Tower, where two-thirds of it are in foreign ownership and a quarter held through offshore companies based in tax havens.

"Will the minister outline the steps we will be taking to get full transparency and what timetable will be set by the Government so that overseas territories will be required to have public registers?

"Failure to do so will only result in even more monuments down our river front to this corruption."

Responding for the Government, Lord Ashton of Hyde said progress had been made on the territories sharing information with UK tax and law enforcement agencies.

He added: "What we are doing about The Tower that he mentioned, the Prime Minister has committed at the anti-corruption summit that we will have the first public register of foreign-owned companies owning property in this country."

This would apply to new and existing ownership, he said.

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