01/07/2003

New anti-money laundering unit set up

A new anti-money laundering taskforce to streamline and modernise the system for reporting suspect financial activity, was announced today by the Home Office.

The new taskforce will be made up of representatives from the private sector, law enforcement agencies and government. It will take charge of the overhaul of the Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) system, "ensuring it delivers maximum intelligence and benefit to law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime", and that it operates as efficiently as possible.

Home Office Minister Caroline Flint said that whilst the system had worked well, there was always room for improvement.

"We know that profit is the main motive for many criminals," she added.

"They need to clean their 'dirty cash' before they can gain from it. So, by cracking down on crooked money transfers, we remove their ability to spend their ill-gotten gains and take away the incentive to commit crime in the first place."

The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) has already started to plan for some changes, with the intention of meeting the specified deadlines working with partners in law enforcement agencies.

Welcoming the establishment of the taskforce, Vincent Harvey, Director of Economic Crime for the National Criminal Intelligence Service, said: "With in excess of 100,000 Suspicious Activity Reports expected this year, and over 50 different agencies involved in their investigation, a huge network has been set up, which is improving all the time."

The new anti-money laundering taskforce will oversee the modernisation of the SAR system, improve police access to the intelligence held by NCIS, and building closer partnerships between all stakeholders.

New laws tightening the UK's defences against money laundering are contained in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and came into force on 24 February 2003.

(GMcG)

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