Clause 145 - Information orders: money laundering

Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 22nd November 2022.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

Clause 145 amends the existing information order power in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to bolster the UKFIU intelligence-gathering powers. Clause 146 addresses a gap in counter-terrorism legislation by mirroring those in the Terrorism Act 2000. The clauses will align the UKFIU more closely with the international standards of the Financial Action Task Force, known as FATF—including to me, actually—and enable greater collaboration with international financial intelligence units. That aids public safety in the UK and overseas, and furthers the UK’s efforts to combat illicit financial flows entering the UK economy.

FATF is the international body devoted to developing and promoting policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. As a member, the UK agrees to promote FATF’s anti-money laundering standards, which are expressed in the form of recommendations. FATF, the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, evaluated the UK in 2018 and rated it only “partially compliant”. That rating was affected by the UKFIU’s limited ability to conduct operational strategic analysis in cases where a business has not already submitted a suspicious activity report.

Clause 145 amends the existing information order power by removing the requirement for a preceding suspicious activity report, or SAR, before an application can be made to a magistrates or sheriff court. Clause 146 mirrors that for counter-terrorism legislation. The information order will compel business in the anti-money laundering regulated and terrorist financing regulated sectors to provide information about a customer or client. That information will enable the UKFIU to conduct its operational strategic analysis functions by proactively gathering financial intelligence rather than relying on the reporting sector to have submitted information already. Further, the clauses will enable the UKFIU to better assist international counterparts to gather information, for example, relating to sanctions evasion and maximising the effort to prevent terrorist finances from entering the UK’s economy.

The information sought under an information order is designed for intelligence purposes only. To ensure the power is used appropriately, a code of practice must be made by the Secretary of State. The person making the application must have had regard to the code of practice when applying to the court for an information order. The measure has been developed collaboratively with the UKFIU.

Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

I thank the Minister for including the provisions in the Bill, which should make it easier for the NCA to access the information that it needs to gather intelligence and conduct analysis of the range of threats that we face from money laundering and terrorist financing. The provisions in the clauses should also help to ensure that the UK is able to provide more effective assistance to law enforcement bodies in other countries in response to requests for information.

Given that so much economic crime is inherently an issue that cuts across international borders, it is absolutely right for the Government to do all that they can to enforce the law within our own borders and to help Governments in our partner countries overseas to do the same.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 145 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 146 ordered to stand part of the Bill.