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Money sender fined record £7.8m in money laundering crackdown

A business that breached money laundering regulations has been hit with a record fine by HMRC.

Money sender fined record £7.8m in money laundering crackdown
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HM Revenue and Customs has issued a record fine to a London business for breaching strict regulations, which could have left them at the mercy of criminals looking to wash dirty cash.

West London money transmitter Touma Foreign Exchange ignored anti-money laundering regulations and received a £7.8 million penalty, the HMRC said in a statement. 

The company was fined by the authority for a wide range of serious failures under the Money Laundering Regulations, including risk assessments and associated record-keeping, and fundamental customer due diligence measures.  

Hassanien Touma was banned on 20 May from any management roles at a business governed by anti-money laundering regulations after he acted as an officer for the money services business (MSB). Individuals are required to pass a vetting test to ensure they are fit and proper to carry out the role, and Mr Touma failed to do this.

"We know that criminals use MSBs to disguise and move dirty money, and we’re determined to thwart them by helping businesses avoid being exploited in this way," said Simon York, director of HMRC's fraud investigation service.

"However, a word to the wise for those firms who, either by ignorance or design, continue to flaunt the rules – this record fine shows we mean business, so get your house in order before we come knocking."

The fine was announced following a separate HMRC, Metropolitan Police (MPS) and Financial Conduct Authority month-long crackdown on MSBs at risk of being used for money laundering to fund organised crime, such as drug trafficking, violent crime and terrorism.

During the July crackdown, MPS and HMRC officers executed warrants at 12 addresses in West London and seized evidence of money laundering. On 3 July 2019, Metropolitan Police officers arrested two men in central London and seized £100,000 cash intended for an MSB.

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