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Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 6th December 2017.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State 9:30 pm, 6th December 2017

The noble Baroness says “everyone”. I know that she and the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, made that point but I do not agree. She has made her point and I have listened; perhaps she should listen to the point that I am making in response.

As the noble Baroness says, Schedule 2 ignores the cascade of information. The power in Clause 41 will enable us to update and amend existing legislation that does this, as we did when the regulations were replaced this year, as I have already mentioned. This should not be viewed in isolation, which I fear is what the noble Baroness is doing. When new categories of risk manifest—the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, talked about virtual currency exchanges—new legislation will be needed, and this power helps to fill that gap.

In sum, Schedule 2 sets out examples of the scope of the anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing power contained in Clause 41, and it defines the limits of this power in relation to criminal penalties. The noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, ignores proportionality. However, this issue must be looked at in the wider context, not in isolation. Ministers are bound to use these powers proportionately, taking account of people’s human rights, and they are bound by Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. I therefore contend that Schedule 2 should stand part of the Bill.

Perhaps I may briefly mention Amendment 71A, which I understand is related to the opposition of the noble Baronesses, Lady Kramer and Lady Bowles, to Schedule 2. To give an example, the reference in paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 to regulations, mentioned by the noble Baroness, being capable of requiring,

“prescribed persons to identify and assess risks relating to money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the integrity of the international financial system”,

corresponds with regulations 16 to 18 of the money laundering regulations 2017. These require the Government, supervisors and regulated firms to assess the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing at a national, sectoral and business level as appropriate so as to inform the nature and extent of any due diligence measures applied by regulated firms.

Perhaps I may give a further example. The reference to “prescribed persons” in paragraph 4 of Schedule 2, which again the noble Baroness quoted, corresponds to Part 3 of the money laundering regulations 2017. This establishes a framework giving effect to the standards of the Financial Action Task Force relating to simplified and enhanced customer due diligence, which I am sure we all welcome. Again, this is not about the UK going it alone; it is about how we are part and parcel of the FATF.

Therefore, the amendment would not remove the Government’s ability to designate categories of business as regulated for anti-money laundering purposes, or designate supervisors. These purposes are already permitted under Clause 41 and are referred to in Schedule 2.

There may also be a number of areas where we want to confer functions upon persons to assist with the implementation and enforcement of sanctions. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, startled the doorkeepers when she quoted various examples. Captains of ships and harbour masters, for example, might need to exercise functions in order to comply with shipping sanctions. We might also need to confer functions to help enforce sanctions on border officials, agents of Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue, or law enforcement agencies, such as the National Crime Agency.

I know the noble Baroness. She is well versed in the money laundering issue, and I respect that. That is why I said at the outset that I will listen again, or read, I should say—listening to Hansard may be stretching it a bit—her contribution very carefully and see if there are aspects that need further amplification and explanation from the Government. I hope that through my practical examples I have addressed some, if not all, of her concerns and that at this point, she will be minded to withdraw her amendment.