Just one person will be employed by the Government to work on a key part of its efforts to tackle international corruption, it has been revealed.
Last month, David Cameron used a global summit in London to launch a crack down on corruption, and unveiled a host of measures aimed at combating the problem.
One of these was an anti-corruption innovation hub, designed to link up experts from countries including Switzerland, Indonesia and Spain in a bid to share ways of tackling financial crime.
But despite being one of the Government’s flagship proposals, Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock has admitted only one member of staff will work on the project.
Labour’s Shadow Cabinet member Jonathan Ashworth, who discovered the staffing plan, told the Huff Post UK: “The new Innovation Hub was billed as one of the headline aspects of the Government’s new anti-corruption work, yet it now seems that the hub has just one full time member of staff working on it.
“Corruption is a worldwide scourge that cheats some of the poorest countries out of billions of pounds of tax revenue.
“The Government needs to show more steel in this area – from dedicating more staff time and resource to it, to introducing public central registers of beneficial ownership in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to make sure the world’s most corrupt have fewer places to hide.”
Announcing the hub in May, the Government said the aim of the project was to “connect social innovators, technology experts and data scientists with law enforcement, business and civil society”.
It formed part of a broader Anti-Corruption Strategy announced after the international conference, which the Government said it will put more flesh on the bones of by the end of 2016.
The fact that one of the key measures only has one member of staff assigned to it raised eyebrows with Robert Barrington, Executive Director Transparency International UK:
He told the HuffPost UK: “The Summit generated lots of initiatives and commitments, including the Innovation Hub and there will be a prospect of failure if the commitments are not properly resourced - just like the failure to resource the SFO effectively after passing the Bribery Act.
“Without more information on the plans, it's not possible to say how much resource is necessary, but the Summit's legacy depends on the commitments being properly implemented.”
The amount of money laundered through the UK each year was estimated to be £48billion in 2011.
In his written answer, Hancock said: "The Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub is a virtual network which brings together government, civil society, law enforcement, technologists and the private sector to share cross-sector expertise and new ideas on how to tackle corruption.
“The Hub will begin work shortly and the Government is committed to developing this network over the next year.
“There is a full time member of staff with additional support as part of joint commitment between the Government and Omidyar Network. Omidyar Network will be providing additional support for the project.”
The Omidyer Network is a foundation which works with philanthropists and organisations including Change.org, the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency and the Open Data Institute.