Budget: Anti-money laundering campaigners back £100m economic crime levy

Newly appointed Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed plans in the Budget to supplement public sector funding with a charge paid by all groups that are subject to UK Money Laundering Regulations, which include banks, accountants, estate agents and solicitors

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 12 March 2020 09:07


The Chancellor has unveiled a new £100m levy on companies to combat money laundering, receiving a warm reception from industry providers and campaigners. Addressing the nation for the annual budget Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed plans in the Budget to supplement public sector funding with a charge paid by all groups that are subject to UK Money Laundering Regulations. It is understood that this will include banks, accountants, estate agents and solicitors.

Susan Hawley, director of campaign group Spotlight on Corruption, said: “Given the role that banks and other professions in the City of London play in making the UK such an attractive hub for illicit finance, it’s right that they should all contribute financially to the fight against economic crime.”

Wayne Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Encompass Corporation told The Commentator: “Financial crime in the UK is still very much prevalent and, despite extensive efforts to tackle it, dirty money is still peddled through UK banks and financial services institutions every day.

There is no denying that banks have come a long way in regards to the work that they do to counter this problem but the fact that the financial landscape is constantly evolving, coupled with the increasingly sophisticated methods being used by criminals who are more tech-savvy than ever before, means it is difficult for them to keep up with these criminals.

Johnson continued, “It’s great to see the issue being faced head-on with plans for a sizable investment in new enforcement and regulation tactics. This will be able to fund new investigative technology, the effectiveness of which cannot be understated: cutting-edge Know Your Customer (KYC) regulation technology, for example, is extremely valuable when it comes to enhancing the efficiency and quality of banking due diligence, providing comprehensive background checks on companies from all sectors of domestic and international business.

The impact of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) on the economy cannot be underestimated and, essentially, a levy such as this is designed to deal with the downstream costs of money laundering to society. What we see is that, because of this level of criminal activity, the tax burden falls on a smaller number of people. Community financial costs need to be taken into account and an introduction such as this is a logical strategy, which goes some way to redressing the balance.

"If regulators and law enforcement have the means to investigate financial crime more effectively, they can share this vital information with banks who, in turn, can make the relevant changes to their policies and processes that will allow for more effective AML in the future,” he conclude.

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