In an evaluation published today, the global standard-setter for anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorist financing (CTF) gave the UK its highest rating for the measures it has taken, including its use of financial sanctions against terrorists.
It finds that the UK has a “strong understanding” of the significant risks that go hand in hand with being the largest financial services provider in the world. Its aggressive investigation and prosecution of cases involving money laundering and terrorist financing are “highly effective” and it has taken a leading role in coordinating responses at UN and EU level to the threat of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
FATF also says that the UK is a global leader in promoting corporate transparency. “It is using the results of its risk assessment to further strengthen the reporting and registration of corporate structures.
“Financial institutions as well as all designated non-financial businesses and professions such as lawyers, accountants and real estate agents are subject to comprehensive AML/CFT requirements.
“Strong features of the system include the outreach activities conducted by supervisors and the measures to prevent criminals or their associates from being professionally accredited or controlling a financial institution.”
However, there is more the UK can do to further strengthen the AML and CFT regime. Examples include giving a “substantial” boost to the resources of the UK financial intelligence unit and modernising the suspicious activity reporting framework.
Welcoming the report, Treasury economic secretary John Glen said, “There is absolutely no place for dirty money or the people that launder it in our country, so I am incredibly proud that today’s report confirms that the UK has one of the strongest regimes in the world for deterring these criminals.
“Our law enforcement agencies and our regulators have done an exceptional job at bringing the fight to the terrorists and crooks, but there is always more we can do. That’s why we will continue to improve our defences.”
He added that the UK government was setting up a new unit with a sole remit to fight illicit finance. The National Economic Crime Centre will bring together for the first time law enforcement agencies, government departments, regulatory bodies and the private sector, to crack down on economic crime.
The UK has five years to implement the report’s recommendations and report back to FATF.