Joint campaign to tackle money laundering in the UK financial sector

The Government is launching a joint campaign with the legal and accountancy industries to raise awareness of the warning signs of money laundering.

The campaign, ‘Flag it Up’, has been developed with the Accountancy Affinity Group (AAG), Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to help accountants and solicitors spot the ‘red flags’ which could indicate criminal activity.

The campaign, which runs until March 2016, aims to provide professionals with best practice guidance on how to protect their business reputation and ensure they are not caught up in criminality.

The size and complexity of the UK financial and professional services sectors mean they are more exposed to criminality than those in many other countries, and it is essential that Government and industry work together to tackle this threat.

Mike Penning, Minister for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Victims, said:

“Serious and organised crime costs the UK at least £24 billion each year. This works out as roughly £1 for every person in the UK, every day of the year. A collective and relentless response to money laundering is vital if we want to tackle this destructive crime. Working with industry to help professionals spot the warning signs of suspicious activity will make things harder for those seeking to evade the law.”

“This new campaign will help to raise awareness and advise those in the legal and accountancy industries how to identify and report suspected criminality that, if not dealt with, can seriously impact their careers and reputations.”

Tania Hayes, Chairman of the AAG and Head of Conduct and Compliance, AAT, said:

“We are delighted to be working with HM Government on reminding the accountancy sector of the tell-tale signs of spotting a criminal – no mean feat when they intend to look like every legitimate client on the books.  Money laundering masks the biggest causes of social harm globally, diverting valuable assets from their rightful owners into the pockets of criminals to the detriment of society.  With a responsibility to act in the public interest, accountants must be at the forefront of this fight against financial crime.”

Through recent amendments to strengthen the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Government is making it harder than ever for people to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime. The Act gives law enforcement agencies the powers to recover criminal assets and freeze suspicious funds. The Serious Crime Act 2015 made it a criminal offence to participate in the activities of an organised crime group.