The latest official figures suggest £90bn is laundered in crime proceeds through the UK each year. The Home Secretary announced a framework to crack down on money laundering, particularly in the City of London.
She commented: “Today we are taking action against economic crime, and by that, I mean the high-level crime, the billions that have been laundered through the City of London, making sure we reduce that, and we are very clear we expect higher standards of integrity in this country.”
Under the new measures, a new National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) will be created within the National Crime Agency (NCA). The NCA will in turn be able to task the SFO to investigate the worst offenders. The government has also confirmed that the SFO will continue to operate as an independent organization.
These new measures have set out six priorities that include countering “corrupt insiders” in policing, prisons and the defence sector, reducing corruption in public procurement and increasing enforcement and financial transparency.
The strategy has been met with some criticism, however. It says almost nothing about extending corporate criminal liability beyond bribery and tax evasion to wider economic crimes and that there are no new measures to tackle issues related to offshore financial centres, forcing them to introduce public registers of company ownership. Another aspect of concern is the cost involved in abolishing the existing agencies and setting up the new organisation which could be high and that setting up of the new NECC would require new legislation.
The governments new, more robust approach to money laundering, bribery and corruption certainly brings reassurance that steps are being taken to secure our future prosperity. A “failure to prevent approach” is certainly the way forward to ensure that Britain remains one of the safest and cleanest places in the world to do business.
As a result of this announcement and the changes this will inevitably bring to AML regulations, firms are advised to review their risk appetite and approach to AML and financial crime prevention by reviewing and enhancing their AML Governance Framework.
Firms who are concerned about their exposure to risks involving anti-money laundering should consider a thorough AML Health Check to help them assess their position and remediate any gaps and shortfalls. If this is of interest to you, please contact me or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.