UK aims to crack down on money launderers, facilitators


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Beneficiaries and facilitators in crosshairs of new UK emphasis on AML Compliance

In an effort to tighten its enforcement of anti-money laundering and other financial crime, officials in the UK will more closely track on favorite avenues for laundering money. Security minister Ben Wallace cited examples such as high-tuition public schools (known as private schools in the U.S.), soccer teams, luxury car retailers, and so on.

The National Crime Agency estimates that more than £90 billion per year is laundered through the U.K. In an interview with the Guardian,  Wallace also pinned responsibility on professionals who facilitate the laundering of funds on behalf of their clients—accountants, lawyers, real-estate agents, and so on.

Britain will launch a new national economic crime center this week. Using a multi-agency approach, an infusion of financial support, and intelligence-based investigations, the UK authorities aim to prosecute not only the major money launderers but also the supporting cast that facilitates the dirty transactions.

According to the Financial Times,  agencies central to the new effort include the National Crime Agency, the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue and Customs, The City of London Police, the Financial Conduct Authority, and police officers from around the nation.

Wallace also emphasized the importance of stopping the laundering of reputations by flashy purchases of soccer teams, prestigious private educations, and prime luxury estate in the most prestigious parts of the city. He told the Guardian that the enablers of these illicit behaviors—the facilitators who choose not to ask questions, complete due diligence, or notify officials of suspicious behavior—need to face aggressive prosecutions, as well.

Officials in the U.K. have talked tough in prior years about tightening obvious avenues of money laundering there, but changes to enforcement were slow to come. However, experts cite the recent Panama Papers scandal and similar high-profile laundering scandals as impetus for improving enforcement.

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