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Action plan for reform of anti-money laundering regime

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The government has published an action plan for strengthening its powers against money laundering and terrorist financing, billed as the most significant reform of the anti-money laundering regime since the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Consultation on the changes will run until 2 June 2016. The plan seeks to address gaps identified by the national risk assessment report published in October 2015. It is based around the three priorities of enhancing the law enforcement response, improving the effectiveness of the supervisory regime and increasing the international reach of the system.

New enforcement powers would include:

·       ‘unexplained wealth orders’, requiring those who are suspected of money laundering to explain the sources of their wealth, with a forfeiture power allowing law enforcement agencies to seize assets where the answers provided are unsatisfactory;

·       a new civil recovery power allowing law officers to seize amounts of up to £100,000 from bank accounts, following an initial hearing at a magistrates’ court;

·       exploring a new ‘illicit enrichment’ offence, by which some countries make it a criminal offence to possess assets that cannot be accounted for by way of lawful income; and

·       a new power to designate entities as being ‘of primary money laundering concern’, based on similar provisions in the USA Patriot Act.

Measures to improve the supervisory regime would include working more closely with the private sector. The suspicious activity reports (SARs) regime would be reformed, including the removal of the ‘consent’ regime, under which those who report suspicious activity can claim the defence of acting with the consent of the UK Financial Intelligence Unit. This would be replaced with an intelligence-led approach focusing on high-risk cases, supported by the sharing of information through the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT). The JMLIT, established as a pilot in February 2015, would be made permanent.

International aspects would include better cross-border information sharing between private sector and government entities, and placing new National Crime Agency international liaison officer posts in selected jurisdictions.


Issue: 1306
Categories: News