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New anti-money laundering watchdog: fails to fill policy vacuum and needs full transparency and proper powers to be effective

15th March 2017, London – The UK’s anti-money laundering regulation is widely acknowledged as not fit for purpose, and it is by no means clear how effective proposals introduced today by the Treasury (the UK’s finance ministry) will be in ending the UK’s role as a safe haven for corrupt money.

Proposals announced today include a new watchdog to oversee standards in money laundering supervision.

Whilst it is a positive step for the Government to recognise the current system is inadequate, it is unclear whether vital principles for reform identified in Transparency International’s previous research will be met as part of these reforms. These include sufficient safeguards to protect against conflicts of interests by the supervisory bodies, robust enforcement action to act as a genuine deterrent against money laundering, transparency about what the secretive supervisors have been up to and greater consistency in the way supervisors police the rules.

Robert Barrington, Transparency International UK’s Executive Director said:

“It has now been a year since the world was rocked by the Panama Papers scandal, that exposed the ease with which corrupt individuals can stash their ill-gotten gains in safe havens such as the UK and its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. Our research has long identified the UK’s anti-money laundering regulation as not being fit for purpose. Although it is welcome news that the Government is finally taking action to address this, the jury is out on how effective this new legislation will be.”

“These proposals are novel and untested elsewhere in the world: while we hope they succeed, what we can say right now is that the new watchdog will certainly fail if it is toothless, captured by special interests and as lacking in transparency as the current system, which is shrouded in secrecy and riven with conflicts of interest.”

“If the UK is serious about ending its role as a safe haven for corrupt money, there must be extensive changes as part of a wide-ranging anti-corruption strategy. The Government has as of yet failed to deliver on its promise to produce such a strategy, and with such a policy vacuum we are left guessing how effective piecemeal reforms are likely to be.”



In May 2016, the Government announced it would publish a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy by December 2016.  It has yet to appear.


Dominic Kavakeb
020 3096 7695
07964 560340


Read 271 times Last modified on Wednesday, 15 March 2017 18:49

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