THIRTY Scottish shell companies are fronting for “all or nothing” financial gambling sites of a kind police believe are part of Britain’s biggest internet scam.
An investigation by the Sunday Herald has identified a total of around 130 UK-registered firms providing an EU smokescreen of respectability to unregulated “binary options” websites, many run from call centres in Israel. Scottish firms make up more than a quarter of the total.
International watchdogs believe the industry has cost investors - or punters - hundreds of millions of pounds over the last decade, with English police earlier this autumn saying they believe an average of two scams they uncover a day were just the “tip of the iceberg”. It is believed that thousands of Britons have been conned out of money by the sites, many of which are rigged so that their customers lose.
The Scottish firms acting as formal owners of the website are all limited partnerships or SLPs, a kind of business which allows their owners to be secret, file no accounts and pay no taxes.
UK Security Minister Ben Wallace last week told MPs that “intelligence assessments from law enforcement” on the abuse of SLPs were “very concerning”. The Sunday Herald and its sister paper The Herald have named scores of SLPs involved in criminal or unethical behaviour over the last two years, including the alleged $1bn looting of banks in Moldova and Ukraine’s arms export mafia. (more...)
A voice from Israel: How Scottish firms are fronting for scam financial gambling sites run from Tel Aviv