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UK banks commit £6.5 million to tighten money laundering controls

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The UK’s major banks are to pump £6.5 million into a project to reform the Suspicious Activity Reporting regime, under a Home Office project to crack down on economic crime and money laundering abuses.

The Economic Crime Plan draws together government agencies, law enforcement and the private sector in a major overhaul designed to tackle the the scourge of ‘dirty money’ in the UK. The Plan revolves around improved levels of information sharing, resource pooling and technological innovation, and a tough new enforcement regime for cryptocurrency trading.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority handed out £227.3m in fines last year, as banks faced heavy penalties for keeping dead customers’ cash and failings in tackling money laundering.

The reform of the Suspicious Activity Reporting regime is intended to improve access to high quality intelligence on the latest threats from criminal actors in washing the proceeds of crime. UK Finance is hosting a team of industry and Home Office experts to help deliver this work.

The action on cryptoassets will be taken in concert with the Financial Conduct Authority, “going beyond international standards to create one of the most comprehensive global responses to the use of cryptoassets in illicit activity”.

Director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, Graeme Biggar, says: “Having a detailed, up to date joint understanding of the threat helps ensure we focus our response where it will have the biggest impact. Our joint work has highlighted the scale and sophistication of the challenge, the extent to which fraud is now cyber enabled, the key role that corrupt or complicit lawyers and accountants and complex corporate structures can play in money laundering, and the importance of tackling money mules.

“The UK has been recognised as a world-leader in combatting economic crime, yet the activity still poses a significant threat to the country’s security and prosperity, with the financial sector a major target for criminals. Serious and organised crime is estimated to cost the UK at least £37 billion each year.”

 

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