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UK: Gov’t taps banking heavyweights to fight money laundering

 |  January 15, 2019


Aiming to fight more financial crime, the UK government has recruited senior executives from Barclays, Lloyds Banking, and Banco Santander.

According to a report in Bloomberg, the new working group—called the Economic Crime Strategic Board—is being led by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The group will meet twice each year to create a list of priorities and to direct resources toward fighting money laundering, bribery, corruption, and fraud. Others in the group will include law enforcement, attorneys, accountants, and real estate agents.

Bloomberg noted the effort is being prompted by a record number of suspicious activity reports submitted in 2018, which jumped around 10% to 463,938 in the 2017 through 2018 year. Within that, there was a 20% increase in requests for a way to prevent money laundering. The companies that issued the reports are worried about criminal behavior.

The new group created by the UK government comes as regulators in Europe and the US are cracking down on money laundering by instituting stricter rules and regulations. The move comes amid high-profile money laundering scandals, including one involving Danske Bank in which a small branch is accused of aiding in the laundering of a large amount of money, as well as accusations by the US government against ABLV of Latvia. In that case, the company is accused of bribery and money laundering.

The European Commission is among the government agencies looking to step up enforcement of money laundering, with Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis saying in late December that Brussels wants to put in place stronger enforcement of AML rules. Some of those include a requirement that banks do background checks and other actions to conduct due diligence on customers and to share information on how money flows. If it passed, the banking authority would have more power to oversee national banking watchdog organizations.

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