Forty-two businesses have been identified as having potential compliance failings in customer checks, record keeping and identifying risk, as part of on-going work by the UK’s anti-money laundering regulatory bodies to combat criminal activity.

17 May 2019 

National Economic Crime Centre logoThe National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) brought together regulators in the legal, finance and property sectors to make sure businesses’ supervisory systems to identify potential money laundering activity were fully up to scratch.

A total of 250 visits and compliance reviews were carried out, which will be followed up with assessments or disciplinary action in some cases. Regulators are continuing to analyse the visit reports to identify any further breaches.

The NECC is also in the process of referring three suspected professional enablers to regulatory bodies in connection with on-going investigations into illicit finance.

Compliance leads and regulators, including HMRC, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Gambling Commission, International Association of Bookkeepers, Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA), Law Society, , Law Society of Scotland, Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI), Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers all upped their usual activity last week.

The organisations were sending a strong message to businesses -  we will work together to identify and deal with any suspicious or criminal activity.

Regulators and supervisors received two ‘alerts’ ahead of the intensification week to help spot signs of money laundering specific to their sector.

Money laundering costs the UK more than £100 billion pounds a year. It is used by criminals and terrorists to move funds and pay for assets. High volumes of criminal money flowing through the UK results in a loss of confidence in UK economy which has far reaching consequences for us all.

The NECC, hosted by the National Crime Agency, co-ordinates and tasks the UK’s response to economic crime. The centre shares intelligence and identifies the most effective capabilities across public and private sectors to tackle economic crime.

Rick Kent of the NECC said: “As outlined in the NCA’s national strategic assessment launched earlier this week, regulators and supervisors are vital to our work to stop those who undermine the UK’s economy, integrity, infrastructure and institutions through their criminality. 

“Virtually all high-end money laundering schemes, and several cash based ones, are facilitated by the abuse of legitimate processes and services. This work with regulators helps protect victims, organisations and systems from the harms of serious and organised crime.

“The particular aim of the week has been to further strengthen our co-ordinated approach. The NECC is able to unite organisations to make the UK a hostile environment for money laundering.”

Simon York, Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Businesses in the accountancy, legal and property sectors need to understand that criminals prey on weaknesses, so it’s vital they take all steps to protect themselves. The money laundering regulations are key to that, but there’s still a minority of businesses who ignore their legal obligations. These inspections are a wake-up call that if you continue to trade illegally we will come knocking.”

Reports of suspected money laundering activity should be submitted to the National Crime Agency (NCA). Information about reporting suspicious activity can be found at www.gov.uk/money-laundering-regulations-report-suspicious-activities