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In its recent assessment of the UK's anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime, the Financial Action Task Force gave the UK the strongest results of 60 countries it has assessed to date. Out of the 11 areas assessed, the UK received the highest possible rating in 4 and the second highest rating in a further 4.
The strong assessment of the UK’s system reflects the UK’s commitment to tackling illicit finance – as reflected through recent reforms such as the establishment of the National Economic Crime Centre, the establishment of the Office for Professional Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) within the Financial Conduct Authority, the new measures introduced in the Criminal Finances Act 2017, and the implementation of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017.
In January, the Chancellor and Home Secretary launched the Economic Crime Strategic Board which will work with senior figures from the public and private sectors to tackle economic crime. The Board, which will meet twice a year, will set priorities, direct resources and scrutinise performance against the economic crime threat. It is through the work of this Board, and the ongoing Treasury and Home Office-led economic crime reform programme, that the Financial Action Task Force’s recommendations will be addressed.
On 13 February, I co-chaired an AML/CFT Supervision roundtable with the Minister of State for Security & Economic Crime, with attendance from across the professional body supervision regime. This provided an important opportunity to emphasise the commitment of government to tackling illicit finance in the accountancy and legal sectors, to reaffirm my support for OPBAS in raising supervision standards and to make clear to attendees their responsibility to address the recommendations made by FATF during their review of the UK’s AML/CFT regime.
There is work already in train to address some of the recommendations. For example, the government is already committed to:
Reforming the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime, to further improve the use of financial intelligence in the UK
Regulating virtual currencies for AML/CTF purposes by the end of 2019, to tackle emerging risks in the sector
Taking appropriate action on mitigating the threats posed by limited partnerships, on which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published proposals in December 2018
A broader package of reforms to Companies House which will be consulted on later this year, and
Strengthening the AML supervisory regime through the work of the OPBAS.