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Law Commission urges improvements to anti-money laundering regime

The Law Commission has called for the introduction of a standardised form for the submission of SARs to strengthen the anti-money laundering regime.

Law Commission urges improvements to anti-money laundering regime
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A new advisory board and statutory guidance would reduce wasted time and improve the UK’s ability to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing, the Law Commission has announced.

Over the last 10 years, the number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) submitted has doubled to a record 470,000 in 2018-19.

However, a study carried out by the commission at the request of the UK Home Office found a significant number of these SARs are of low quality and can contain limited, or even no, useful intelligence.

Money laundering is estimated to cost every household in the UK £255 a year and allows criminals to profit from their crimes. Banks and other businesses use SARs to report cases of suspected money laundering and terrorism financing to the United Kingdom Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU).

In order to streamline the SARs submission process, the Law Commission has recommended the creation of an advisory board made up of experts from the public and private sector; a new standardised online form for the submission of SARs; and statutory guidance on key concepts underpinning the regime.

“Money laundering is a blight on the UK’s economy and damages our international reputation. We must have a regime in place that allows law enforcement agencies to investigate and disrupt money laundering at an early stage,” Professor David Ormerod QC, criminal law commissioner at the Law Commission, said.

“We think our recommendations would help tackle money laundering more effectively in a more proportionate manner, by reducing the burdens on the UKFIU and reporters,” professor Ormerod added.

Collectively the recommendations are designed to improve the quality of reporting as a whole and reduce the number of reports with limited intel. 

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