London Stock Exchange

UK Government Urged to Take Action Against London-Listed Vedanta Resources After Protesters Killed in India

Read time: 7 mins
Protesters outside the Indian High Commission in London

The UK Government has been urged to take action after a British mining and energy giant was accused of extensive human rights abuse and environmental damage in India.

Vedanta Resources, a British-registered company listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), is under the spotlight after 13 protesters demanding the shutdown of India’s second largest copper plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were shot dead by police. Dozens were injured.

The deadly mass protest is the latest major incident to engulf Vedanta, which has been accused of a series of human rights violations, with campaigners demanding the company be delisted from the LSE.

Introducing Empire Oil: A DeSmog UK Special Investigation

Read time: 3 mins
African Oil Hub

The UK likes to brag about its credentials as a global climate leader. But a new DeSmog UK investigation reveals that beneath the green veneer lies some dirty business.

At the centre of it all is the City of London and its junior stock exchange, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

DeSmog UK’s new three-part investigative series Empire Oil: London’s Dirty Secret, lifts the veil on a “boys' club” that generates wealth for The City from environmentally damaging activities in politically unstable regions.

Through detailed analysis of company activity and market data, it exposes how AIM’s “light touch” regulation and complex offshore company structures create an opaque corporate environment in which conflicts of interest have been shown to thrive.

Taking AIM: London’s Wild West Stock Market

Read time: 18 mins
AIM's 20th anniversary

The London Stock Exchange’s history and reputation is one reason the city is viewed as a great global financial centre. But while the main market may be famous, the UK’s junior stock exchange has largely remained under the radar.

London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) has a record of attracting small oil, gas and mining companies hoping to raise money to fund their business, and has been denounced by critics for its weak regulation and lack of means of enforcement.

This second article in Desmog UK’s three-part investigation outlines how AIM creates a grey area that allows extractive industry outfits to operate with minimal oversight while at times putting vulnerable communities at risk.

Exposed: The Elite ‘Boys Club’ Running London’s Opaque Oil Network

Read time: 24 mins
Oil in the Niger Delta

In the summer of 2008, as the price of oil peaked to a record high, a polar explorer and a group of City bankers decided to turn a former gaming company into an oil and gas investment company targeting one of Africa’s most unstable corners: Nigeria.

Investors were told the new business would find an oil asset in the shallow waters of the Niger Delta with the help of a local prince, partner with a company to extract the oil, and sell it on to an oil major for a profit.

To fund this new venture, Sirius Petroleum was listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), London’s junior stock market that allows small companies to raise funds by floating shares. Critics have denounced the market’s weak regulation, which has won the exchange a “casino” reputation

Behind the scheme was millionaire Andrew Regan and his Cayman Islands-registered investment vehicle Corvus Capital. Together with a group of established City operators, Regan reportedly made a fortune on AIM, buying into shell companies and transforming them into lucrative ventures. Sirius appears to be another example of this strategy.

What is AIM and How Does its Regulation System Work?

Read time: 8 mins

London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) was set-up in 1995 as the little sister of the London Stock Exchange, allowing growing companies to raise funds.

When a company decides to join the London Stock Exchange, it can list shares on the main market or seek admission on AIM, where smaller companies have a chance to raise money from outside investors.

The Secrecy Laws of the Anonymous Offshore World

Read time: 6 mins

The offshore world is one where information about company ownership is kept hidden from ordinary taxpayers and law enforcement authorities.

The publication of the Panama Papers in 2016 and the Paradise Papers in 2017 has laid bare the fact tax havens have been used by the world’s elite and wealthy to launder money, evade tax and finance dirty ventures.  

The Guardian, for instance, exposed the Azerbaijan ruling elite’s secret £2.2bn scheme to buy luxury  goods and launder money through a network of four opaque British companies - with the owners of two of them hidden through companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

These unprecedented leaks of data have put the spotlight on a system that protects the rich and powerful through hard-to-trace companies and anonymous investment vehicles.

Following the revelations, Germany passed a new anti-offshore law called the “Panama Plan” and the UK has just voted on an amendment which could kick the door open on anonymous accounts in British overseas territories. 

But for now, companies and individual business tycoons continue to use the offshore system to hide behind regulations protecting their identity. Over the years, the offshore system has enabled crime, corruption and wrongdoing but not much has been done to stop it.

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