U.K.'s Authorities to Launch Crackdown on Illicit Activities Involving Cryptoassets

The British government has drafted a new Economic Crime Plan which outlines strategies that may be used to prevent financial crimes - including those involving cryptoassets.

Prepared by U.K.’s Home Office and the nation’s H.M. Treasury (responsible for implementing public finance and economic policy), the financial crime prevention plan proposes several changes to how the European nation’s authorities might respond to illicit financial activities.

The Economic Crime Plan recommends that the British government’s law enforcement agencies and private institutions work closely with the government to combat illegal financial activities.

Tackling “Fraud, Money Laundering, Bribery, Corruption”

According to Coindesk, the crime prevention action plan has been approved by Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sajid Javid, U.K’s Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Law enforcement agencies, large financial institutions, and prominent legal, accountancy and property firms have also reviewed the financial crime plan. As mentioned in the crime prevention document, the plan aims to “tackle fraud, money laundering, bribery and corruption.”

Major Financial Institutions Provide Funding to Combat Financial Crimes

Illicit financial activity will be investigated by local police officials and by authorities in other countries, the economic crime plan noted. Major financial institutions including Santander UK, RBS, Nationwide, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC UK have contributed around £6.5 million to help fund the financial crime prevention effort. The funds will reportedly be used to make reforms to the Suspicious Activity Reporting regime.

As noted in the announcement:

All parties will work together on longer term funding for developing richer intelligence and improving operational effectiveness in the fight against dirty money.

The notice also mentioned that law enforcement officials will be monitoring cryptocurrency transactions, in order to track the potential use of digital currencies in money laundering, drug trafficking, or other types of illicit activity.

“Most Comprehensive Global Response” to Illicit Activity Involving Cryptoassets

Additionally, a cryptoassets investigation unit will be established, in order to work alongside U.K’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). According to the financial crime prevention plan, U.K.’s authorities will be “going beyond international standards to create one of the most comprehensive global responses to the use of cryptoassets in illicit activity.”

In addition, an Asset Recovery Action Plan will be launched to help recover funds lost due to crime. As mentioned in the announcement, approximately £1.6 billion has been recovered from various criminal organizations between 2010 and 2018.

In response the crackdown on financial crimes, Chancellor Hammond remarked:

The UK has one of the toughest systems for combating money laundering, but too many people are still falling victim to fraud. This crime fuels everything from drug dealing to modern slavery, fundamentally undermining people’s faith in our financial system and impacting economic growth.

He added: 

By bringing together leaders from across government, law enforcement and business, we can better tackle the scourge of dirty money, and ensure the UK continues to be one of the safest places in the world to invest and do business.