From April to June 2016, the Government ran a consultation seeking views on potential changes to legislation and options to reform the anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-financing of terrorism (CTF) regime. The Government received 52 responses from a wide range of public and private institutions, as well as individuals.
The Government has now published an action plan following its review of the consultation responses and proposes to introduce a Criminal Finances Bill. The Bill will introduce a number of changes to the UK’s AML/CTF regime including:
- improvements to the Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) regime by: (i) creating a new power for the National Crime Agency to obtain further information from regulated business following a receipt of a SAR; and (ii) extending the investigative period in which a senior law enforcement officer can prevent a transaction from going ahead. The Government does not intend to remove the consent regime at this time, but will continue to explore what actions could be taken to prevent its misuse;
- the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) that require an individual to explain the origin of assets which appear to be disproportionate to their known income;
- the establishment of a new information sharing gateway for data exchange on suspicious activity between private sector firms with immunity from civil liability;
- the introduction of new civil powers enabling a more effective seizure and forfeiture of criminal proceeds kept in bank accounts without the need to secure prior conviction;
- a new power enabling the seizure and forfeiture of portable high value items used for storing and moving criminal proceeds (e.g. gold or precious stones).
The Government’s action plan does not include a response to the separate review conducted by HM Treasury on the UK’s AML/CTF supervisory regime. HM Treasury is expected to provide a separate response later this year.