UK Government raises awareness of the signs of money laundering
The UK Government is raising awareness of the signs of money laundering and the risks firms and professionals face if caught facilitating or failing to report financial crime.
Serious and organised crime costs the UK around £24bn ($32.5bn, €27bn) each year, according to Government figures.
In its latest report, the government re-launched its ‘Flag it Up’ campaign to raise awareness of how industry can help stamp out criminality and illegal practices.
The campaign is headed up by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and is a joint campaign between the government, the legal and accountancy sectors.
Suspicious Activity Reports (SARS) are the missing piece of the intelligence puzzle that industry can provide, the campaign said.
SARS are critical in tackling money laundering, serious and organised crime, corruption and fraud. They also provide valuable information from the private sector that would otherwise be invisible to law enforcement.
The NCA said that financial advisors, as regulated professionals, are required to submit SARS should they suspect any wrongdoing by clients or prospective clients.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 also requires institutions in the regulated sector to submit SARS where there are suspicions of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Companies and individuals that fail to take action over suspicious activity could become subject to a criminal investigation.
Even if charges are not brought, the campaign warned that a significant amount of time and resources could be spend answering questions from law enforcement or regulators. Worse still, an investigation could result in reputational damage.
Advisers and other industry professionals are advised that the three tell-tale signs of money laundering are:
• A long-term client starts making requests that are out of character;
• A client repeatedly asking for services outside a provider or firm’s area of expertise; and,
• A client requesting arrangements that do not make commercial sense.
The campaign warned that ignoring suspicious activity puts professionals and their firms at risk and fuels further crime.