Over half of firms (54%) in the finance and banking sector have seen a rise in attempts to launder money or commit financial crime through their businesses in the last year, according to a survey by SmartSearch.  

More than 14% of businesses in the finance and banking sector said they have been a victim of money laundering or financial crime in the past six months. 

The survey was carried out in May by anti-money laundering (AML) software provider SmartSearch of 500 regulated UK businesses in the legal, property, and banking and finance sectors. This was as part of their Electronic Verification Uncovered campaign. Across all the firms in the survey, 45% had seen an increase in the number of money laundering or financial crime attempts, highlighting the higher likelihood for the finance and banking sector to experience a rise in attempts, compared to the average. 

The size of companies also influenced their likelihood of being increasingly targeted. Firms with more than 500 employees were almost twice as likely (55%) to see an increase in criminal activity compared to those with less than 50 people (28%). 

Businesses in Northern Ireland and the East Midlands were the most likely to come under increased attacks – 71% and 63% respectively of firms had seen a rise in illegal activity. Other regions also had half or more than half of businesses dealing with increased attempts – with 56% of firms in Wales, 53% in Yorkshire, and 50% in the West Midlands reporting increased attempts. Even in areas where firms were less likely to see an increase, more than a third surveyed were still affected, with 33% reporting increases in attempts in the North East, and 37% in Scotland.  

SmartSearch managing director Martin Cheek: “Governments can warn about financial crime, but these results show the reality of its threat. Not only is it very real, but the criminals behind it are increasingly active. These statistics should ring alarm bells for all regulated businesses.”