The Government has announced a new Taskforce, including senior figures from the UK financial sector, which will work to tackle economic crime.
The scale of this type of crime – which includes fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering – is estimated to be at least £14.4 billion per year.
The new Economic Crime Strategic Board will include senior figures from the UK financial sector and will set priorities, direct resources and scrutinise performance against the economic crime threat, which is set out in the Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) Strategy.
The board includes CEOs and chief executives from the banking institutions Barclays, Lloyds and Santander as well as senior representatives from UK Finance, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Accountants Affinity Group and National Association of Estate Agents.
Bob Wigley, Chair of UK Finance, said:
We want to ensure the UK is the safest and most transparent financial centre in the world. Banks already spend over £5 billion a year fighting economic crime, but the private sector can’t tackle it alone. That’s why the finance industry works closely with law enforcement and Government agencies to stop the threat and protect customers. The new Economic Crime Strategic Board will strengthen these vital partnerships.
As part of this, it’s vital that we have the best anti-money laundering reporting system possible. The industry is committed to supporting the Government in reforming the existing regime and UK Finance is currently hosting a team of industry and Home Office experts to achieve just that.
The Home Office have announced they will commit £3.5 million in 2019/20 to support work to reform the Suspicious Activity Reports regime (SARs).
SARs are the mechanism used by members of the regulated sectors, including the banking, accountancy, legal and property sectors to flag up suspicions about potential money laundering and terrorist financing to the NCA.
The NCA received a record number of reports last year. The number of SARs reports rose by about 10% to 463,938 during 2017-18, compared with the previous year, including a 20% rise to 22,196 in requests for a defence against money laundering.
SARs reform is one of the commitments in the SOC Strategy, launched in November, which is backed by Government investment of at least £48 million in 2019 and 2020 to further ramp up law enforcement capabilities to specifically tackle illicit finance.
Other measures in the SOC Strategy include additional investment in the multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) which is now operational and includes officers from the NCA, HM Revenue and Customs, City of London Police, Serious Fraud Office, Financial Conduct Authority Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office.
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