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Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

Volume 468: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2007

I have placed in the Library of the House the first Annual Report to Home Office and HM Treasury Ministers on the Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) regime to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The reporting system is a key element in the United Kingdom’s defences against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Report has been prepared by a multi-agency Committee, under the chairmanship of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), which includes the financial services sector, police, other law enforcement agencies, and the Financial Services Authority.

The Government welcome the good progress that SOCA and the other participants have made to ensure that the reporting system is operating effectively to help deter, detect and disrupt those involved in these crimes and in holding them to account. It is also recognised that there is more to be done to maximise the benefits of the system. The Home Office and HM Treasury will be working closely with SOCA to take this forward.

The Government are providing law enforcement agencies with additional resources to improve financial investigation. Last year the Home Office allocated £58 million to agencies involved in the recovery of the proceeds of crime from money launderers and other criminals. Of that total, £15.5 million went to police forces in England and Wales, much of which has been invested in increasing financial investigation capacity. Further allocations will be made this year.

For its part the Association of Chief Police Officers issued comprehensive best practice guidance to all forces last year on conducting money laundering investigations through the use of financial investigation techniques.

The strategy agreed by the Home Office, HM Treasury, SOCA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in February 2007 in “The financial challenge to crime and terrorism” set out our shared vision for building on our success to date. The overall goal is a SAR system that addresses the threats to the UK from crime and terrorism, contributes to the reduction of harm and the recovery of the proceeds of crime while minimising the costs of compliance to industry.