Fortytwo Data, a Big Data company, has released new research that concludes the U.K. is ramping up its fines for anti-money laundering (AML) infractions.
According to the firm, the U.K.’s revenue and customs branch, the HMRC, has increased the average value of anti-money laundering fines levied against businesses by 166 percent, while the total value of financial crime fines issued jumped 105 percent year over year.
In total, researchers said, HMRC issued more than $1.5 million in AML fines this year. Dealers and sellers of high-value items like art, antiques, jewelry and boats are among the firms that have been hit with AML fines recently.
“High-value dealers and those handling large transactions, particularly in unregulated industries, are a money launderer’s dream,” said Fortytwo Data CEO Julian Dixon in a statement. “Awareness of money laundering risks will be low; profits are high, which encourages those who are suspicious to turn a blind eye, and criminals are able to launder huge amounts of money in a single, seemingly innocuous, transaction.”
“Businesses who ignore their money laundering responsibilities should not expect a light touch,” he added in a statement sent to PYMNTS.
Fortytwo Data also found that, while businesses and financial institutions can file suspicious activity reports (SARs) to notify authorities of potential criminal activity, like money laundering, rates of SAR filings are quite low: Only 45 suspicious activity reports were filed by high-value dealers this past year, and auction houses submitted only nine.
According to Dixon, the spike in AML fines could signal that U.K. regulators are “getting tough on the weak links in our money laundering defenses.”
According to the data, though, while the value of fines has increased, the number of fines issued by HMRC for AML infractions has actually declined year over year, from 1,153 to 886.
“If HMRC has been an effective AML supervisor during this period, then the fall in the number of penalties issued is also encouraging and may demonstrate their tactics are working,” the CEO said.