UK tops in anti-money laundering and economic crime action


Police officers close Park Street in Mayfair during an anti-money laundering operation in London. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty

The UK is on the frontline of the fight against economic crime, according to a new report.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which sets the global standard in anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, has given the UK the top rating for its controls and measures, which include financial sanctions against terrorists.

This is the highest rating out of the 60 countries assessed to date, meaning that the UK has one of the toughest regimes in the world.

John Glen, economic secretary to the treasury and City minister said: “There is absolutely no place for dirty money or the people than launder it in our country, so I am incredibly proud that today’s report confirms that the UK has one of the strongest regimes in the world for deterring these criminals.

“Our law enforcement agencies and our regulators have done an exceptional job at bringing the fight to the terrorists and crooks, but there is always more we can do. That’s why we will continue to improve our defences and work with our international partners to find, disrupt and prosecute anyone dealing in illicit money.”

In the Mutual Evaluation Report, the FATF praised the UK for its combative approach to investigating and prosecuting money laundering through criminal justice measures, confiscating funds and using financial sanctions, through which over 1,400 convictions are made each year.

In January, “unexplained wealth orders” were incorporated into UK law as part of Criminal Finances Act 2017. These orders legally compel someone to reveal the source of their fortune, and are highlighted by the FATF as one of the most effective controls the UK has implemented.

The report also recognises that the UK’s public register of company beneficial owners – people who  own or control more than 25% of shares or voting rights – and register of trusts with tax consequences, have prevented misuse of businesses.

To maintain the status, the government will double down on its efforts by establishing a new unit within the National Crime Agency that will unite law enforcement agencies, government departments, regulatory bodies and the private sector, to stamp out illicit financing.

Ben Wallace, minister for security and economic crime, said: “We will use all the powers and tactics we have, as set out in the new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, to drive money launderers out of the UK and clamp down on those that threaten our security. The strategy sets out how we are working with the private sector, the public and international partners on our integrated and powerful response.”

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