Yesterday, the Government published a statement of progress concerning the Economic Crime Plan, which was launched in 2019 to tackle fraud and money laundering, essentially by harnessing capabilities, resources and experience of public and private sectors.
Noteworthy items on the horizon for 2021 are:
- the review of the criminal market abuse regime to take place by July 2021;
- the fact that the NECC will be established, by July 2021, as the "law enforcement lead for serious and organised economic crime in England and Wales" including "owning a single picture of the threat and driving the operational response";
- the review by HMT of "the effectiveness and scope of the MLRs [...] the effectiveness of enforcement actions taken under the MLRs, the interaction of the MLRs with other pieces of legislation (like POCA) and consider options for reform"; and
- the introduction of the Bill to establish a public register of beneficial owners of non-UK entities that own or buy UK property in the next Parliamentary session, with the register to be operational with the support of Companies House by 2021.
Without question, tackling economic crime should be a key priority for the Government as the UK emerges from the pandemic. The "Global Threat Assessment" published last year by Financial Crime News, reported that fraud, increasingly cyber-enabled, is the most likely crime to be committed against adults in the UK. The report called, inter alia, for measures to boost the effectiveness of existing laws, including renewing commitments and reviewing funding, and for greater support for information sharing, coordination and collaboration between public and private sectors.
The UK Government's Economic Crime Plan with its ambitious agenda needs to be properly resourced to ensure that its aims are achieved.
"By July 2021, the NECC will be fully established as the law enforcement lead for serious and organised economic crime in England and Wales, leading and coordinating and tasking across a whole system response to priority serious and organised crime threats such as high-end money laundering."