On 4 May 2021, the UK Government and UK Finance published a joint Statement of Progress against their Economic Crime Plan, covering the period from its launch in July 2019 to February 2021.
The Plan was originally launched to help the UK tackle fraud and economic crime, and it is divided into 7 Strategic Priority areas containing 52 actions to help focus efforts.
Key updates following the Plan’s first 6 months of implementation are as follows:
- There is now an enhanced understanding of potential fraud and economic crime threats to the UK. This has been supported through the publication of the third UK National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in December 2020 and introduction of a “Fusion Cell” in the National Economic Crime Centre;
- Action has been taken to close gaps and loopholes, such as updating anti-money laundering requirements, to make it harder for criminal actors to abuse the UK economy for illicit purposes; and
- Capital has been injected into the national effort to tackle economic crime and fraud through a £63m investment into the Home Office to apportion as needed.
Going forwards, the UK Government and UK Finance indicate that they are committed to cracking down on ground-level activities which underpin money laundering, such as the use of money mules. They have also set out an additional 7 actions (on top of the original 52) to further enhance the Plan, including designing and delivering a comprehensive Fraud Action Plan and continuing to reform the UK suspicious activity reporting (SAR) agenda.
As the UK Government continues to crack down on fraud and economic crime, it is vital for firms operating in the UK to align with and support the ambition to ensure the UK remains a transparent, safe and open place for global business. Therefore, firms operating across all sectors of the UK economy should pay close attention to their AML obligations; maintain proactive and open communication channels with their relevant regulator and/or authoritative bodies; and continually evolve and learn lessons to prevent and deter criminal activity.