Banks onboard for UK economic crime taskforce
Barclays, Lloyds and Santander are up for a new government taskforce designed to tackle economic crime.
Called the Economic Crime Strategic Board, it will meet twice a year, set priorities, direct resources and scrutinise performance against the economic crime threat, which is set out in the Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) Strategy.
The board includes CEOs and chief executives from Barclays, Lloyds and Santander as well as senior representatives from UK Finance, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Accountants Affinity Group and National Association of Estate Agents.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid says: “We need to take action on all fronts to target the corrupt fraudsters who are lining their pockets with dirty money and living luxury lifestyles at the expense of law-abiding citizens. The government is already investing millions in the fight against economic crime, but it is crucial we work closely with our financial sector partners to win this battle.”
Javid and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will today (14 January 2019) jointly chair the taskforce.
According to the UK government, the scale of this type of crime – which includes fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering – is estimated to be at least £14.4 billion per year.
At the board meeting, the Home Secretary will confirm that the Home Office will commit £3.5 million in 2019/20 to reform the suspicious activity reports regime (SARs).
SARs are the mechanism used by members of the regulated sectors, including the banking, accountancy, legal and property sectors to flag up suspicions about potential money laundering and terrorist financing to the NCA.
The NCA received a record number of reports last year. The number of SARs reports rose by about 10% to 463,938 during 2017-18, compared with the previous year, including a 20% rise to 22,196 in requests for a defence against money laundering.
The number of SARs reports rose by about 10% to 463,938 during 2017-18, compared with the previous year, including a 20% rise to 22,196 in requests for a defence against money laundering.
SARs reform is one of the commitments in the SOC Strategy, launched in November, which is backed by Government investment of at least £48 million in 2019 and 2020 to further ramp up law enforcement capabilities to specifically tackle illicit finance.
As reported in September 2018, the UK government partnered with banks on a joint anti-fraud initiative to deal with the rise in scams affecting UK consumers. At that time, industry sources cautioned that final details were still being hammered out.
Also, in October 2018, a number of large UK banks, securities exchanges and insurance firms launched a new body to fight cybercrime, Financial Sector Cyber Collaboration Centre. The organisation behind the centre is UK Finance.
It will work with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and NCA.