FCA yet to prosecute under Money Laundering Regulations
The FCA is yet to bring a prosecution since the Money Laundering Regulations were introduced in 2017, City AM has reported.
This revelation, found through a Freedom of Information request by law firm Hickman & Rose, found that there has been no criminal prosecutions against a firm or individual for breaching the regulations.
Under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, the FCA is able to criminally prosecute a person or organisation it believes is not putting sufficient safeguards in place against money laundering.
A guilty verdict could lead to a fine and up to two years’ imprisonment.
Andrew Katzen, head of regulatory at Hickman & Rose, told City AM: “There is probably action behind the scenes, but it is just so slow.
“If there is meant to be a deterrent effect in those powers, how is that impacted by the delays?”
The FCA said it was investigating three people in connection with suspected criminal breaches of the regulations.
City AM reports that the FCA is investigating criminal and civil money laundering offences that took place before the introduction of the regulations in 2017.
John Dobson, chief executive of SmartSearch, said: “It’s vital that firms comply with money laundering regulations – not just for compliance reasons but to help stop dangerous criminals in their tracks.
“But regulators need to show they’ve got teeth and are taking their responsibilities seriously too.
“Where there have been serious breaches, the FCA needs to act fast to make it crystal-clear that this will not be tolerated.
“Further changes to anti-money-laundering rules are due to come into force at the end of the year that will widen the definition of money laundering, and increase jail terms for those found guilty of criminal offences.
“The FCA needs to up its game or risk lulling firms into a false sense of security.”
Michael Harris, director of financial crime compliance at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, added: “It’s certainly cause for concern that we’re not harnessing all of our powers to action money laundering prosecutions, especially in the context of a crackdown by the European Commission, which recently announced it will launch infringement procedures next month following lack of implementation of the fifth Money Laundering Directive by some EU countries.
“The EU is clearly serious about tightening up money laundering controls and weeding out the c$225bn of dirty money washing through EU countries, and the UK must be seen to follow suit.
“Financial criminals are experts at exploiting the weak links and if everyone is not working to a common regulatory standard, and enforcing action upon those who don’t comply, then money launderers will simply find the weakest point of entry into our financial systems and abuse it.
“Following Brexit, the UK cannot afford to be seen as a soft option for money launderers – our reputation as a global financial hub could be at risk if we’re not seen to take a decisive, no-nonsense approach to tackling money laundering breaches.
“We collectively need to do far better to really understand who we’re doing business with, and ensure that those firms who don’t have the correct controls in place pay the price.”