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UK unveils Economic Crime Plan 2019 to 2022

The new Economic Crime Plan, agreed between the Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, and heads of law enforcement, major financial institutions and legal, accountancy and property organisations, 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, with improved levels of information sharing, resource pooling and technological innovation.

The plan draws together actions to overhaul the approach to tackling economic crime, including:

  • £48m of previously announced funding to continue to build the National Economic Crime Centre and help the National Crime Agency to better utilise data to proactively target fraudsters and those laundering dirty money
  • reform of the Suspicious Activity Reporting regime, with Barclays, HSBC UK, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, RBS and Santander UK investing £6.5m in 2019/20, in addition to the £3.5m committed by the Home Office this year. All parties will work together on longer term funding for developing richer intelligence and improving operational effectiveness in the fight against dirty money.
  • 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
  • promoting innovation in the private sector and encouraging businesses to take advantage of pioneering technologies to combat economic crime, as well as reduce their compliance costs
  • implementing the new Asset Recovery Action Plan, setting out a range of measures designed to enhance efforts to claw back the proceeds of crime, including those held abroad.

Alongside the Economic Crime Plan, the Government is publishing a new Asset Recovery Action Plan. It highlights how more assets have been recovered under this government than ever before, with £1.6bn taken from criminals between April 2010 and March 2018 using the powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA). Many hundreds of millions more have been frozen.

The recovery of assets also helps contribute to ongoing efforts to tackle crime, including work to follow the money as an effective way of disrupting serious crime and depriving more offenders of the proceeds of their offending.

The plan sets out measures designed to ensure the relevant agencies have the powers they need, building on other ongoing work to combat economic crime. This includes encouraging transparency around the ownership of assets, with recent proposals to reform Companies House so that ownership and control of companies is clearer.

John Edwards, CEO of the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) comments: "Risk-based supervision and risk management is one of the key priorities in the plan which we believe is central to the prevention of economic crime. The IFA has and will continue to develop its intelligence in this area as it will enable our member firms and the IFA, as a supervisory body, to educate and support our members and to focus our efforts and resources where the risks are highest, creating a robust regime.

“As a professional accountancy body and supervisory body for anti-money laundering the IFA welcomes and fully supports the strategic priorities that have been set out to overhaul the approach to tackling economic crime."

The plan sets out seven priority areas that were agreed in January 2019 by the Economic Crime Strategic Board, the ministerial level public-private board charged with setting the UK’s strategic priorities for combatting economic crime:

  • develop a better understanding of the threat posed by economic crime and our performance in combatting economic crime
  • pursue better sharing and usage of information to combat economic crime within and between the public and private sectors across all participants
  • ensure the powers, procedures and tools of law enforcement, the justice system and the private sector are as effective as possible
  • strengthen the capabilities of law enforcement, the justice system and private sector to detect, deter and disrupt economic crime
  • build greater resilience to economic crime by enhancing the management of economic crime risk in the private sector and the risk-based approach to supervision
  • improve our systems for transparency of ownership of legal entities and legal arrangements
  • deliver an ambitious international strategy to enhance security, prosperity and the UK’s global influence.

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