New Clause 27 - Money laundering offences: electronic money institutions, payment institutions and deposit-taking bodies

Part of Financial Services Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 13th January 2021.

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Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 3:31 pm, 13th January 2021

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point. It really does stray beyond the provisions of this particular amendment. He makes an important point, but it is not one that I can address at this point. I would be very happy to write to him to answer his question more appropriately.

I shall now turn to the remaining amendments in my name, which ensure that the powers that the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority have over holding companies function as intended. Amendments 25, 26 and 27 enable the PRA and the FCA to make rules directly over holding companies to void employment contracts and require recovery of remuneration paid to individuals when rules prohibiting them from being paid in a certain way are breached. This is important because, as a result of the measures brought forward in this Bill, responsibility for ensuring compliance with a banking or investment group’s capital requirements is moving from its operating companies to its holding company. This amendment ensures that the regulator can enforce breaches of the rules at the level at which they are set.

Amendments 15, 28, 29, 30 and 31 are a set of relatively small amendments that ensure that the PRA has the full suite of enforcement tools at its disposal for the supervisory regime over holding companies. Amendment 24 is a technical drafting point. Amendments 22 and 23 are clarificatory amendments, which are necessary to ensure that the investment firm’s prudential regime applies to the correct set of firms and does not have extraterritorial effect. I know that this is an important point for my hon. Friend Bim Afolami. I thank him for his work on this and hope that he will welcome these amendments.

I shall now turn to the other amendments that have been tabled by Members of this House. First, there are a number of amendments that relate to criminality and money laundering. New clause 4 and new clause 30 would create a new criminal offence for FCA-regulated persons of facilitating and of failing to prevent economic crime. This is an important and complex topic, so I will seek to address it in detail.

The Government have taken significant action to improve corporate governance and culture in the financial services industry. We introduced the new senior managers and certification regime, which enables the FCA more easily to take action against the responsible senior manager where there has been a failure in a firm’s financial crime systems and controls. Separately, the Government have recently strengthened the anti-money laundering requirements on financial services firms.

In 2017, the Government issued a call for evidence on whether corporate liability law for economic crime needed to be reformed. Unfortunately, the findings were inconclusive and, as a result, the Government have tasked the Law Commission to conduct an expert review on this issue to report by the end of this year. That will ensure a more comprehensive understanding of any issues with current economic crime law, as well as the implications of any potential options if reform is considered necessary. Before any broader new “failure to prevent” defence for economic crime is introduced, there needs to be strong evidence to support it, as there was when similar bribery and tax evasion offences introduced in 2010 and 2017 respectively took place. A new offence will also need to be designed rigorously, with specific consideration given to how it sits alongside associated criminal and regulatory regimes and to the potential impacts on business.

The proposed new offences in this amendment would lead to a discrepancy in treatment between FCA-regulated businesses and other businesses under criminal law. The 2017 call for evidence did not provide any evidence to suggest financial services businesses should be specifically targeted with a new offence. Indeed, many of the examples provided related to businesses in other sectors.