New anti-money laundering proposals are a "thundering disappointment" according to UK MPs

New anti-money laundering proposals have been criticized as a "thundering disappointment" by several MPs from the UK's all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on anti-corruption.

The Law Commission's proposals, which would make directors more accountable for economic crimes, were slammed by the group as "unambitious, uninspired, and insipid" when they were released on Friday.


According to The Guardian, the group also expressed concern that the Law Commission had overlooked a number of crucial changes that would improve efforts to punish companies and directors for AML failures.


The review was prompted by "concerns that the law falls short in adequately holding corporations – especially large companies – to account, particularly for economic crimes such as fraud," according to the Commission.


Companies and "non-natural persons" cannot be prosecuted in England and Wales for a number of crimes, including "environmental or regulatory offences," under current regulations.

The newly released review proposes ten reform options for the UK government to consider. The proposed reforms are "designed to ensure that corporations of all forms can be properly convicted of crimes, without placing an administrative burden on law-abiding businesses," according to the Law Commission.


According to the Law Commission, proposed reforms for corporate criminal liability include proposals to broaden the scope of liability for corporations for the actions of senior management by establishing a "identification doctrine."


These proposals also include the option of expanding "failure to prevent" offenses to include other economic crimes committed by corporations, such as fraud, as well as new financial penalties and reporting requirements.


Spotlight on Corruption, a campaign group, said it would be a "travesty" if the UK government were to "take this report as a green light to do nothing" in response to the review.


The review, according to Margaret Hodge, Labour MP and Chair of the APPG on anti-corruption and responsible tax, was a "thundering disappointment" that let "corporate criminals and the enablers of economic crimes off the hook."


"What was couched as a once-in-a-generation chance for reform has instead left the door open for yet further inaction on tackling the scourge of dirty money," she added.


"It beggars belief that money laundering has been excluded from the new ‘failure to prevent’ offences," she said.


"We will never truly reform corporate culture in Britain until there is a real deterrent against bad behaviour – that means prosecutions against those at the top and the threat of going to prison," she said.


"It’s imperative that we have the right mechanisms in place to allow companies to be effectively held to account for misconduct carried out in their name," said Prof. Penney Lewis, Law Commissioner for Criminal Law, in response to the review.


"Our ten options for improving the law on corporate criminal liability mean that the Government now has several viable routes to reform at its disposal," she added.


The review has now been forwarded to the UK government, which will decide whether or not to implement any of the recommendations.

By fLEXI tEAM