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Anti-money laundering system to be beefed up by new government board

The National Association of Estate Agents has met with other members of a high-level government board to look at ways of tackling economic crime.

The Economic Crime Strategic Board, chaired by the Home Secretary and Chancellor, aims to work with senior figures from the UK financial sector to tackle economic crime.

“Property is often seen as a gateway to money laundering and it is essential that estate agents are aware of their duty in carrying out the right checks and reporting any suspicious activity. As a board we will be seeking to ensure a step change in how the UK tackles economic crime and the role that the private sector can play in doing so” explains Mark Hayward, chief executive of the NAEA.

In a statement released to coincide with yesterday’s first meeting of the board, the government says the scale of this type of crime – which includes fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering – is estimated to be at least £14.4 billion per year.

The ECSB will meet twice a year to “set priorities, direct resources and scrutinise performance against the economic crime threat.”

The board includes chief executives from the banking institutions Barclays, Lloyds and Santander as well as senior representatives from UK Finance, the National Crime Agency and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Accountants Affinity Group as well as the NAEA.

“We need to take action on all fronts to target the corrupt fraudsters who are lining their pockets with dirty money and living luxury lifestyles at the expense of law-abiding citizens” says Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

“The government is already investing millions in the fight against economic crime, but it is crucial we work closely with our financial sector partners to win this battle.

“These criminals threaten the UK’s reputation as a world-leading place to do business and we have a joint responsibility to stop them.”

Meanwhile Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond adds: “The UK is leading the world in the fight against illicit finance, preventing fraudsters from stealing billions from the public each year. 

“We know more can be done which is why the Home Secretary and I are launching the first ever cross-departmental board to prevent more people from becoming victims of economic crime.

“By bringing together specialists across the public and private sector, we can use the best of our expertise to maintain our status as a global financial centre.”

The Home Office has committed £3.5m in 2019/20 to support work to reform the Suspicious Activities Report system.

SARs are the mechanism used by estate agents and others to flag up suspicions about potential money laundering and terrorist financing to the NCA.

The NCA received a record number of reports last year. The number of SARs reports rose by about 10 per cent to 463,938 during 2017-18, compared with the previous year, including a 20 per cent rise to 22,196 in requests for a defence against money laundering.

The number of SARs reports rose by about 10% to 463,938 during 2017-18, compared with the previous year, including a 20% rise to 22,196 in requests for a defence against money laundering.

With the private sector, law enforcement and regulators, the Home Office is co-designing a new system which it claims will be more efficient and effective, and which will benefit business and the public sector.

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