A leading Scots business organisation has branded the shell firms involved in criminal offshore schemes "anti-social enterprises", calling for stricter laws to tackle the growing issue.

The Herald has highlighted a number of cases where secretive businesses in Scotland, known as Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs), are being used for global laundering schemes.

Most recently, the Herald revealed at the weekend that three Scottish firms had played a key role in a complex global mechanism that funnels kickbacks to politicians in Latin America.

It linked Scotland and the UK to the Odebrecht bribery “mega scandal”, involving roughly $1 billion, which toppled or threatened to topple leaders across the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world.

This prompted UK Government -- which is responsible for Scots corporate law, including for SLPs -- to pledge new reforms which would crack down on this form of economic crime.

Today the UK Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy stated: "We have concerns that some Scottish limited partnerships are being abused and that is why we will shortly announce new reforms to prevent limited partnerships from being used for unlawful activities."

Duncan Thorp, of Social Enterprise Scotland, the umbrella group for Scotland's social enterprises, said that the laws needed to be changed to encourage more "ethical wealth creation".

He said: "SLPs are anti-social enterprises. Their secrecy breeds a range of dodgy business practices.

"At the opposite end of the scale we have ethical social enterprises like Community Interest Companies and Co-operatives.

"We should modernise corporate law to encourage social enterprise and ethical wealth creation, instead of allowing certain types of business to extract wealth from our communities."

The Herald last year revealed Scots shell firms were used in the Russian Laundromat, the biggest laundering scheme ever uncovered.

The UK Government also introduced emergency measures last year to force the controllers of SLPs to reveal themselves.

However these have been widely ignored, despite the threat of daily fines of £500.