The Prime Minister tasked the Cabinet Office to examine the UK's response to economic crime. This project looked at the UK agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of high value or complex economic crime to determine the effectiveness of our organisational framework and the capabilities, resources and powers available to these agencies against the backdrop of the most recent Strategic Defence and Security Review and the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
In the course of this work, officials have consulted non-governmental organisations, academics, members of the financial services industry, and the agencies themselves such as; the Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority. However, while the review focused on high-value and complex economic crime, the government vowed not overlook the growing problem of smaller-scale fraud committed against ordinary people and small businesses.
Officials have since provided advice to ministers on the effectiveness of the UK's response to economic crime along with a series of recommendations to further enhance our capabilities. The recommendations seek to improve the governance and operational response of the UK's economic crime agencies.
Anthony Browne, CEO, British Bankers Association said;
“Criminals exploit financial transactions to serve their wicked ends. In an ever growing digital world they continually try to find new ways in which money can enter and leave the economy looking legitimate. Reforms are needed to protect individual victims and the economy.”
During the cross-Government meeting held in mid-October, it was agreed that the Home Secretary Amber Rudd will take forward this work and that a package of reforms should be announced by the end of 2017.
The Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA) has already implemented measures which enhance ability to investigate economic crime. For example, the CFA introduces Unexplained Wealth Orders, where individuals whose assets are disproportionate to their known income will need to explain the origin of their wealth. Furthermore, Disclosure Orders have been extended to money laundering investigations and will provide an effective, efficient and flexible means of obtaining information during financial crime investigations.
The new powers under the CFA, which help both law enforcement agencies and the private sector investigate and tackle financial crime together with the package of reforms due to be announced soon, will significantly enhance the UK’s overall response to economic crime.
Should you require advice on money laundering regulations, falling foul of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 or are subject to investigation by the prosecuting authorities please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Swan, Head of Regulation and Financial Crime or Sheila Ramshaw or call 0191 211 1503.