Either side of the holiday season has seen the publication of two documents that are vital in how we work together to deal with the problem of serious and organised crime, which costs the country £37 billion every year, and particularly money laundering.
The third National Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing was published in December 2020 and in January 2021 the UK legal sector published their revised and updated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Guidance.
The National Risk Assessment enables us to gain an understanding of the threats that sectors face and to shape the actions that we must all take to protect individuals, businesses and society. Having experience of working in the financial sector, I understand the traditional high-risk areas for money laundering, the size of the problem and the work that goes into combating the criminals.
Whilst sometimes frustrating when it is repeated many times (and that is something that we hope new technologies will help to address), requests to all of us as consumers, to prove who we are or where our money comes from, are there to protect us.
I now can recognise the attraction to criminals of accessing professional services, giving them the means to create and operate corporate structures, invest and transfer funds to disguise their origin, and lend layers of legitimacy to their operations.
The AML guidance is a good example of how we work closely with other organisations to create a robust supervisory regime. This year, CILEx Regulation will continue its input on the Economic Crime Plan, Suspicious Activity Report Reform programme and reforms to Companies House.
The work we have done with the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) has been important in helping us raise the standards of our supervision and ensuring that we are providing our supervised population with the information that they need. This is set out in our annual AML supervision report.
Like my predecessor, I remain committed to supporting our team in their efforts to:
It is vital that we all help law enforcement agencies investigate money laundering and wider criminality, identify the proceeds of crime, and thereby address the social and economic harm it brings.