Min­istries to work with pri­vate sec­tor to cut money laun­der­ing

The Guardian - - NATIONAL -

The home sec­re­tary and chan­cel­lor are to launch a joint blitz on fraud, bribery, cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing.

Sa­jid Javid and Philip Ham­mond will chair a new task­force that will work with the fi­nan­cial sec­tor to tackle eco­nomic crime, which is es­ti­mated to cost at least £14.4bn a year.

Javid said: “We need to take ac­tion on all fronts to tar­get the cor­rupt fraud­sters who are lin­ing their pock­ets with dirty money and liv­ing lux­ury life­styles at the ex­pense of law-abid­ing cit­i­zens. The gov­ern­ment is al­ready in­vest­ing mil­lions in the fight against eco­nomic crime, but it is cru­cial we work closely with our fi­nan­cial sec­tor part­ners to win this bat­tle.

“These crim­i­nals threaten the UK’s rep­u­ta­tion as a world-lead­ing place to do busi­ness and we have a joint re­spon­si­bil­ity to stop them.”

The chan­cel­lor said the UK was lead­ing the world in the fight against il­licit fi­nance. Ham­mond added: “By bring­ing to­gether spe­cial­ists across the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor, we can use the best of our ex­per­tise to main­tain our sta­tus as a global fi­nan­cial cen­tre.”

The eco­nomic crime strate­gic board will set pri­or­i­ties, di­rect re­sources and scru­ti­nise per­for­mance against the threat. Its mem­bers also in­clude bank chiefs, other min­is­ters, law en­force­ment fig­ures and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the le­gal, ac­coun­tancy and prop­erty sec­tors.

At the board’s first meet­ing to­day, Javid will con­firm his depart­ment will com­mit £3.5m in 2019/20 to sup­port work to re­form the sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity re­ports (SARs) regime. The re­ports are used to flag up po­ten­tial money laun­der­ing, ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing and other sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity to the Na­tional Crime Agency. The NCA re­ceived a record 463,938 SARs in 2017-18.

Bob Wigley, the chair of UK Fi­nance, said: “Banks spend over £5bn 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 board will strengthen these vi­tal part­ner­ships.”

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