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Illicit Finance

Volume 719: debated on Tuesday 6 September 2022

The UK has one of the strongest systems for combating international illicit finance—a system that, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have further strengthened under this Government through the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022. Through the Russian elites, proxies and oligarchs taskforce, we work closely with international partners to ensure that there is nowhere for dirty money to hide overseas. For more detail on our approach to illicit finance, I refer the hon. Gentleman, who seems to be looking at his phone, to the Government’s response to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s recent report, which will be published shortly.

I accept the Minister’s apology.

It should be a source of national shame that it took a full-scale invasion of Ukraine for the Government to take our illicit finance problem seriously. Of course we welcome the sanctions against the Kremlin, but they do not address the UK’s serious and entrenched illicit finance problem. Will the Minister advise the new Foreign Secretary and Chancellor, whoever they may be—although it has been pretty well leaked—to establish an independent anti-illicit finance commissioner, who is tasked with strengthening the UK’s financial infrastructure in the interests of national security, to whom the Government are accountable?

I find it slightly difficult to accept the premise of the hon. Gentleman’s question, because the Financial Action Task Force’s previous review, which looked at 60 different countries, found that the UK had one of the strongest systems for combating money laundering in the world. We have introduced the Economic Crime Act, and will take further action through corporate transparency reform and the introduction of the economic crime levy. We are working in partnership with many countries across the world to tackle illicit finance, to hold those who have been part of this terrible crime to account and to restore the money.