Italian writer Roberto Saviano, who is also believed to be a mafia expert, has said that London is the most corrupt place on earth.
Saviano, who is an investigative journalist and made a name for himself by exposing the practices of the infamous Camorra clan in Naples, said that London is the centre of an international network of bribery and crime. Coming from a journalist who has been exposed to the ways of the mafia, the attribute is nothing to be proud of for the people of London and the nation in general.
Speaking to journalists at the Hay Festival, he said, “If I asked what is the most corrupt places on Earth, you might say it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the south of Italy. I would say it is the UK. It’s not UK bureaucracy, police, or politics, but what is corrupt is the financial capital. Ninety per cent of the owners of capital in London have their headquarters offshore.”
The comments from the author reiterate fears that Western cities harbour ill-gotten wealth and launder money to the detriment of good enterprises around the world. Saviano believes that the property market in London is especially a major conduit for laundering money. The comments are in contrast to British PM David Cameron who recently said that Afghanistan and Nigeria are “fantastically corrupt” and “possibly the most corrupt countries in the world.” Perhaps it is time for politicians in the UK to look inwards.
He has the same opinion when it comes to drugs and believes that London has a ‘status’ as a big drug hub. He said, “Mexico is its heart and London is its head.” To make matters worse, he also claimed that the British capital supports organized crime and is home to the Russian mafia.
Saviano, through his comment, has challenged the stereotype that corruption originates and exists only in poor nations. His comments and observations have also questioned the belief of many in the West that their superior values would not approve petty bribery schemes or misuse of public funds. Recent exposes, such as the Panama Papers and revelations by whistle blowers at Swiss banks, lend credence to Saviano’s views and shows that many idols of values have feet of clay.
The amounts of money transacted in shady deals easily surpass the sums that are earmarked for projects benefiting the poor. The allegation that such transactions originate from dishonest vocations, and that it would be put to use to increase parity between the rich and the poor only worsens the case of western nations who have found themselves in an embarrassing position because of the investigative journalist’s findings.
While senior banking veterans around the world have ascribed London with the infamy of being the “most developed tax haven,” officials in the city are not averse to predicting that the city may grow to become the global money-laundering capital of the world. According to Transparency International, 33,000 London homes are owned by overseas shell companies, the names of whose owners may never be known because they are located in jurisdictions that are not legally obliged to declare the owner’s name.