It was a full house for our event in Parliament yesterday to discuss the real-life issues behind the hit BBC drama, McMafia. We were delighted to be joined by the show's creators Hoss Amini and James Watkins, star James Norton and Misha Glenny, the author of the book on which the series is based, for a debate chaired by the Guardian's political editor Anushka Asthana.
Co-hosting the event was the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption and the government's anti-corruption champion John Penrose gave the keynote speech to an audience of journalists, MPs and partner organisations. You can see how the discussion unfolded below.
Full house at our parliamentary event on the truth behind BBC show #McMafia. Chaired by @GuardianAnushka and co-hosted by @APPGAntiCorrupt pic.twitter.com/vOxpDzf4Ab— Global Witness (@Global_Witness) January 29, 2018
“Honesty and prosperity are mutually reinforcing. UK has to be a hostile place for bribery, #MoneyLaundering, fraud and corruption” - UK anticorruption champion @JohnPenroseNews pic.twitter.com/5IvtpIC39T— Global Witness (@Global_Witness) January 29, 2018
Our campaigner @EllieNichol talks about why #McMafia’s depiction of use of UK banks, legal system and property to hide suspect funds is sadly a familiar story to us pic.twitter.com/ZZk1liWTlP— Global Witness (@Global_Witness) January 29, 2018
.@margarethodge says that UK and its overseas territories have become the jurisdiction of choice for financial crimes and corruption - as demonstrated by #ParadisePapers and #PanamaPapers @taxinparliament pic.twitter.com/KjVl7KF8yg— Global Witness (@Global_Witness) January 29, 2018
Shining a light on the role of UK property
We used the event to highlight how London is being turned into a luxury bolthole for the sorts of corrupt officials and criminals we see in the drama. Anonymous companies allow shady characters to buy up London properties, while hiding their true identities. And Westminster - where our event was held - is the borough with the highest number of these secretly-owned properties.
We also launched a new tool that allows Londoners to look up numbers of secretly-owned properties by postcode - and tweet the figure to their Member of Parliament.
There are over 37,000 #secretproperties in #London. This secrecy is being used to funnel dirty money into the UK, and is entrenching corruption that keeps poor countries poor. Find out how your area compares: https://t.co/9l2DMGiUbE pic.twitter.com/SVSUNfVTzm— Global Witness (@Global_Witness) January 29, 2018
The ability to hide and spend corrupt funds provided by these luxury boltholes makes corruption possible, and worse, it makes it attractive. But, this corruption keeps poor countries poor, de-stabilises democracies, and enables human rights abuses.
As we see in #McMafia it’s too easy for the criminal and corrupt to launder money through luxury property, hiding real ownership behind anonymous companies. Their favoured location? #London. See how many #secretproperties are in your borough: https://t.co/9l2DMG1jk6 pic.twitter.com/qDyjy9aABK— Global Witness (@Global_Witness) January 29, 2018
Be sure to catch up with McMafia on the BBC Iplayer now, or when it comes to screens in the US and globally in February.