`High-End' Economic Crime Gap to Be Targeted in U.K. Report

  • National risk assessment scheduled to be published `soon'
  • Britian has `responsibility' to lead on anti-corruption

The U.K. government will conclude it needs to do more to tackle “high-end” economic crime in its first-ever National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, according to one of the state’s top legal advisers.

The long-awaited report, which is due to be published “soon,” will say that more needs to be done against sophisticated crimes where proceeds are held in banks or real estate, Robert Buckland, the Solicitor General, told a Cambridge conference on economic crime Monday.

The report was initially touted for publication earlier this year before the May general election. It is designed to pre-empt the Financial Action Task Force, the Paris-based body responsible for setting international standards on anti-money laundering, which plans an assessment of the U.K. in 2018. Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated concerns that U.K. real estate was becoming a safe haven for corrupt money in a speech from Singapore in July.

“The U.K. is the home of a global financial and business center, and has a responsibility to play a leading role in efforts to tackle fraud and corruption,” said Buckland. “Economic crime is a problem that affects the lives of all of us. It creates injustice, perpetuates poverty and embeds self-interested elites.”

Buckland also praised the U.K. Serious Fraud Office for its “landmark result” in securing the first successful prosecution by trial in the Libor scandal this year. Tom Hayes, a former trader at UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc., was jailed for 14 years in August for rigging the interest-rate benchmark.

SFO Director David Green said at the same event that whistle-blowers and insiders are proving a growing resource to the agency.

Following on from the Hayes conviction, another guilty plea for rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate, and the conviction of former hedge-fund manager Magnus Peterson, he said the SFO is also planning to secure its first two deferred prosecution agreements with companies by the end of the year.

Such agreements allow firms to avoid prosecution in exchange for fines, other types of redress or assistance in bringing individuals to justice.

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