ONE of Europe’s leading money- laundering experts has warned there may still be major scandals to come with Scotland’s limited partnerships or SLPs

Financial crime expert Graham Barrow has been studying some of the major “laundromats” used to funnel dirty money from Vladimir Putin’s Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

Mr Barrow has catalogued the use of limited liability partnerships or LLPs and SLPs in such schemes, usually in conjunction with bank accounts in the Baltic states. Writing in The Herald today, Mr Barrow looks at the latest scandal, the $200 billion to go through the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest, often with the help of British shell firms.

He said: “When the laundering in Estonia stopped and UK LLP registrations levelled off, the same thing did not happen with SLPs.

“If anything they started being registered in ever larger numbers. Which begs the question, who banks all these new SLPs and where?

“Is there another DBE scandal waiting in the wings in some other bank in some other country? If there is, it won’t be LLPs at the heart of the story. It will be SLPs.”

MP Alison Thewliss has been campaigning for tougher action on shell firms, especially SLPs. She said: “The UK Government’s consultation on Limited Partnerships closed on July 23 and I have written to ministers to ask when recommendations are likely to be forthcoming.

“The figures quoted in this latest scandal are hard to comprehend and potentially run to tens of billions. That it takes for a whistle-blower to uncover suspicious filings at Companies House – entries that were so blatantly dubious – is a damning indictment on the UK Government and its nonchalant approach to scrutiny or inspection of limited partnerships.

“Many experts argue it’s simply a matter of time until the next scandal breaks involving abuse of limited partnerships. The Government must stop dragging its heels and publish some meaningful recommendations in the wake of its consultation. Properly equipping Companies House to do its job should be one of its top priorities.”

There remain thousands of SLPs that exist on paper but whose real owners – and purpose – is entirely unknown.