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 5:30 pm on 13th January 2021.

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Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton 5:30 pm, 13th January 2021

I very much appreciate the efforts that the Minister is making to try to tighten up in many areas. We are on the same page about many different aspects of the measures that we are talking about. Looking at the Bill from afar and taking a helicopter view, for decades, we have been willing to preside over a system that I would describe as financial feudalism. Some people live by a completely different set of rules and are not held to account properly by the rules that are in place. Unless we start to put measures in place that hold individuals to account for some of that egregious behaviour, we will not stamp it out.

That behaviour undermines the faith in the very system that we believe in—the free market system. We cannot simply hold our hands up and say, “It’s the bankers again,” or, “It’s the money launderers again.” We have to tackle those issues and put measures in place to do that. We did with the Bribery Act 2010, which was effective in giving individuals a corporate responsibility to stamp out bribery. Again, the Government acted on tax evasion in 2017.

There are still other areas, however, where we allow people to steal, defraud, launder and lie. That is not to say that there are not some good people in our financial institutions, and there are some very good bankers, but we need to hold individuals to account for things such as LIBOR, foreign exchange rigging, and the disgraceful scandal at HBOS and the Royal Bank of Scotland, where only one individual has been held to account with a directorial ban. As I have said before, over a similar period of time, between 2008 and 2018, there were £9 billion of criminal and corporate fines in the US, but £260 million in the UK.

I am glad that the Government support the principles behind new clause 4 and will bring their own measures forward. It is absolutely vital that that is not just kicking things into the long grass and that those measures are brought forward quickly so that we can hold individuals to account for failing to prevent corporate fraud and money laundering.

The key thing that I will talk about in my last 54 seconds is mortgage prisoners. Again, the fact that we let people’s mortgages be sold to vulture funds in the first place is because we do not have proper regulatory oversight and we do not lean on them as the FCA can on regulated firms. The promises that were made to Lord McFall and others were simply not carried through.

New clause 25 in particular is a nuclear option. I am not a person who would like to cap anything—the market should deliver those solutions—but we do not have a proper solution for the many people who are trapped on very expensive rates. The evidence that we have says that it would not affect the marketplace of residential mortgage-backed securities, about which the Minister is concerned; that it would be highly effective; that we could define it for a certain cohort; and that it would relieve hundreds of thousands of people from dire financial straits overnight. I ask him to look at that again.