New crackdown on fraud and money laundering

Image credit: “crypto globe” by TLC-kios is marked with CC0 1.0.

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill has been laid before parliament and is intended to:

“strengthen the UK’s reputation as a place where legitimate businesses can thrive while driving dirty money out of the UK.”

Through the legislative reforms, anyone who registers a company in the UK will need to verify their identity, tackling the use of companies as a front for crime or foreign kleptocrats.

The reforms to Companies House – its most significant upgrade in 170 years – will also see the organisation armed with new powers to check, challenge and decline incorrect or fraudulent information, making it a more active gatekeeper over company creation.

The investigation and enforcement powers of Companies House will also be upgraded, enabling the organisation to cross-check data with public and private partners, as well as report suspicious activity to security agencies and law enforcement.

Finally, the Bill will also help prevent the abuse of limited partnerships – including those registered in Scotland, for money laundering and other nefarious purposes – by tightening registration and transparency requirements for these entities.

The new law will make it easier and quicker for law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency to seize, freeze and recover cryptoassets – the digital currency increasingly used by organised criminals to launder profits from fraud, drugs and cybercrime.

The use of this digital currency has significantly increased in recent years, with the Metropolitan Police reporting a significant rise in cryptocurrency seizures last year. Strengthening powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act will modernise the legislation to ensure agencies can keep pace with the rapid technological change and prevent assets from funding further criminality.

The package of measures will build upon the earlier Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act.

The new reforms include:
• New powers for Companies House allowing it to “check, challenge and decline incorrect or fraudulent information”, making it “a more active gatekeeper” over company creation;
• Investigation and enforcement powers of Companies House will be upgraded, enabling it to cross check data with public and private partners, as well as report suspicious activity to security agencies and law enforcement;
• Registration and transparency requirements of ‘limited partnerships’ will be tightened to help prevent abuse of these entities;
• Additional powers given to law enforcement to seize and recover suspected criminal cryptoassets;
• Reforms to give businesses more confidence to share information in order to tackle money laundering and other economic crime;
• New intelligence gathering powers for law enforcement and removal of nugatory burdens on business;
• Law-abiding businesses and investors across the UK to benefit from “simplified filing requirements”.

If you are being investigated for any allegation of financial crime our team of specialist lawyers can work proactively to ensure the best outcome.

How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact any member of our vastly experienced Criminal Defence team, for assistance with any criminal law related matter.

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