The taskforce will work with senior figures from the UK financial sector to tackle economic crime, and will be chaired by the home secretary and chancellor. The scale of crime, which includes fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering, is estimated to be at least £14.4 billion per year.
The new Economic Crime Strategic Board, which will meet twice a year, will 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 chief executives from the banking institutions 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 said “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.” The chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, added, ‘by bringing together specialists across the public and private sector, we can use the best of our expertise to maintain our status as a global financial centre.’
The home office is to commit £3.5 million in 2019/20 to support work to reform the suspicious activity reports regime (SARs). With the private sector, law enforcement and regulators, the Home Office aims to co-design a new system which is more efficient and effective, and which will benefit business and the public sector. SARs are the mechanism in the UK 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.