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UK MPs Warn of Failing Efforts Against Dirty Money Epidemic Costing £350 Billion Annually

Members of Parliament in Britain are issuing a stern warning, asserting that the nation is falling dramatically short in its efforts to combat the widespread "dirty money epidemic," which is estimated to drain a staggering £350 billion annually from the economy. In a recently released economic crime manifesto, lawmakers are advocating for a comprehensive overhaul, pushing for stricter regulation of lobbyists, the closure of loopholes in sanctions, and heightened transparency in financial transactions.


UK MPs Warn of Failing Efforts Against Dirty Money Epidemic Costing £350 Billion Annually

Dame Margaret Hodge, who co-chairs the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on anti-corruption, responsible tax, and fair business banking, emphasized the urgency of the situation. She criticized law enforcement agencies for their apparent failure to effectively utilize existing tools, stating, "One of the most frustrating things about the UK’s dirty money crisis is the enforcement agencies are utterly failing to use the tools we already have."

 

The manifesto urges the government to take immediate action by enforcing current legislation and mandating public registers of beneficial ownership in Britain's overseas territories and crown dependencies. MPs warn that the continued inaction of successive governments poses a direct threat to national security, economic prosperity, global reputation, social stability, and democratic values.

 

Key recommendations put forth in the manifesto include the publication of information on property owners in the UK, ensuring comprehensive company information is readily available on Companies House, and the establishment of a specific offense targeting "failure to prevent" money laundering, with top decision-makers being held criminally liable.

 

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Additionally, the manifesto proposes the creation of a ring-fenced economic crime fighting fund to reinvest fines and criminal assets into enforcement efforts. It also calls for the closure of sanction loopholes related to Russian oil, the extension of regulatory rules to lobbyists, and the strengthening of oversight bodies such as the Electoral Commission.

 

Hodge stressed the critical importance of prioritizing the fight against dirty money, stating, "Economic crime is costing our economy £350bn each year."

 

Bill Browder, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, expressed grave concern over Russia's influence, lambasting the UK's handling of Russian dirty money. He warned against the ineffectiveness of sanctions if assets can still be hidden within the British financial system.

 

In response, a government spokesperson highlighted recent legislative efforts aimed at combating economic crime, including the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act and the Economic Crime Plan 2. However, concerns persist, particularly regarding the underutilization of legal powers such as unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) by enforcement agencies.

 

Despite initial expectations for up to 20 uses per year, UWOs have been deployed by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in only five cases, and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has yet to utilize them. This glaring disparity underscores the daunting challenges faced in effectively addressing the infiltration of illicit funds into the British financial system.

By fLEXI tEAM

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