A Financial Times article over the weekend highlighted concerns about the amount of dirty money washing through the UK financial system, saying there were 163 requests for information made to the UK government in the last year.
The 163 requests made by foreign governments in the last year are more than double the 73 received in 2012, according Home Office statistics, released after a freedom of information request was made by Thomson Reuters’ legal business.
FCA’s fight against money laundering
Earlier this year the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined Deutsche Bank more than £163m for failing to prevent $10bn being transferred from Russia to offshore accounts, in a suspected act of financial crime.
Last year the FCA imposed penalties on east London-based Sonali Bank (SBUK) and its former money laundering reporting officer for serious anti-money laundering (AML) systems failings.
In April 2013, the FCA fined EFG Private Bank £4.2m for weaknesses in its anti-money laundering controls.
The previous year, it hit Coutts & Co with a £8.75m penalty for weak controls over high risk customers. It also fined Habib Bank £542,500, including a £17,500 fine for its anti-money laundering boss, and Turkish Bank £294,000.
In 2012, HSBC was alleged to have helped launder money belonging to drug cartels and countries under US sanctions and had to pay a $1.9bn fine to US regulators.
In a recent report the National Crime Agency said: “While there are no confirmed figures for the scale of money laundering, the IMF has estimated that money laundering globally represents between 2% and 5% of GDP. This estimate is broadly in line with similar estimates by the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“If these percentages were applied to the UK economy with GDP at approximately GBP 1.8 trillion, the amount of money laundered would be between GBP 36 billion and GBP 90 billion. In addition UK banks’ international subsidiaries will be exposed to money laundering risk from many other countries.”