Major financial institutions in the United Kingdom will invest £6.5 million to reform the country’s Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) regime used to alert authorities about potential money laundering and terrorist financing.
Barclays, HSBC UK, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, RBS and Santander UK have pledged to provide the funding in 2019/20. This sum is in addition to the £3.5 million committed by the U.K. government this year.
All parties will also work together on longer term funding to develop richer intelligence and improve operational effectiveness in the fight against ‘dirty money’.
These measures have been set out in the UK’s Economic Crime Plan which sets out actions to better tackle the scourge of ‘dirty money’ in the UK. It brings together the public and private sectors in closer cooperation than ever before, with improved levels of information sharing, resource pooling and technological innovation.
Other measures set out in the Plan include;
- Establishing a new cryptoassets regime 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, and;
- Implementing the new Asset Recovery Action Plan, which sets out a range of measures designed to enhance efforts to claw back the proceeds of crime, including those held abroad.
The U.K. has been recognized as a world-leader in combatting economic crime, yet the activity still poses a significant threat, with the financial sector a major target for criminals. Serious and organized crime is estimated to cost the UK at least £37 billion each year.
While numerous government agencies work to combat illicit financial activity, major financial institutions, lawyers and accountants are often the first line of defense, collecting significant information which can be vital to preventing this activity from occurring in the first place.
With regards the recovery of assets, £1.6 billion has been taken from criminals between April 2010 and March 2018 using the powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Many hundreds of millions more have been frozen.
But the U.K. government is determined to go further and ensure criminals have nowhere to hide their illicit finances.
The Plan sets out measures designed to ensure the relevant agencies have the powers they need; strengthen their operational response; drive best practice; and foster innovation and collaborative working.
Other ongoing work to combat economic crime includes encouraging transparency around the ownership of assets, with recent proposals to reform Companies House so that ownership and control of companies is clearer.
In welcoming the publication of the Plan, Commercial Crime Services’ Financial Investigation Bureau (FIB) emphasized that good intelligence is key to fraud prevention. FIB itself has a unique database that provides intelligence on the modus operandi and parties involved in suspicious financial transactions.