British Lawmakers Set to Clamp Down on Money Laundering

    Photo by Policy Exchange from Flickr

    Lawmakers in Britain are launching a new investigation into how the nation is tackling various crimes including terrorist financing and money laundering following a report that billions of pounds of proceeds of crime are flowing into properties in the United Kingdom.

    On Thursday, the cross-party Treasury Committee said that it would also investigate on the nature and scale of economic crimes that are experienced by consumers, including scams, how the financial companies can combat them effectively and how secure the data of their customers are.

    In the year to last September, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated that there were approximately 3.2 million frauds.

    Tthe chair of the Treasury committee, Nicky Morgan, stated: “Given the threats that face the UK, the effectiveness of the regimes that we use to protect our financial system from misuse have never been more important.”

    The committee aims to engage with the scale of terrorist financing, money laundering, and sanctions in the United Kingdom, the current legislative and regulatory landscape and how companies, people, and the wider economy are affected by such regimes.

    The committee is requesting written evidence by the 8th of May and will disclose who it will call for interrogation after that.

    It is not clear how much money is laundered through the United Kingdom in total. However, a UK prosecutor called the National Crime Agency (NCA), has said that calculations of around 36 billion pounds to 90 billion pounds are considered to be “a significant underestimate.”

    Investors from the Middle East, China, and Russia have invested billions into London, purchasing everything from luxury properties to entire companies. However, the source of some of the said funds has been questioned by transparency campaigners.

    An anti-corruption group called Transparency International says that it has identified approximately 4.4 billion pounds worth of property in the United Kingdom that was acquired with suspect wealth.

    The United Kingdom has said that it will use new powers that are called unexplained wealth orders (UWO), to seize the assets in Britain that were acquired by corrupt politicians and foreign criminals and clamp down on dirty money that is washing through London, in particular.

    In February, the NCA said that it had secured UWOs to examine two properties that are worth approximately 22 million pounds. The said properties were believed to be ultimately owned by a “politically exposed person” – someone close to those holding, or are already holding prominent public positions.

    Property can be confiscated if owners are not able to explain the source of the funds that were used to acquire the assets. Misleading or false statements can result in a fine or two years in prison.