Steps to stem corruption in the UK

London - Photo: Arun Jacob Thomas

 New report reveals the lack of powers available to law enforcement agencies to stop corrupt money being laundered through the UK. Just seven corruption-related suspicious financial transactions acted on by UK last year….reports Asian Lite News

Photo: Arun Jacob Thomas
Photo: Arun Jacob Thomas

Transparency International UK’s latest report,“Empowering the UK to recover corrupt assets” addresses the ongoing problem of corrupt wealth being laundered through the UK. The paper serves to do three things: Highlight the full extent of the problem, demonstrate the legal shortcomings  and suggest a practical solution following consultation with a team of experts.

“The UK’s asset recovery regime is clearly not fit for purpose and it is far too easy for individuals to launder their corrupt wealth through the UK,” said Nick Maxwell, Transparency International UK Head of Advocacy and Research. “This failure is down to the limited powers UK law and enforcement agencies have to seize corrupt assets. The UK is well placed to lead on international efforts to recover the proceeds of grand corruption. Our research has resulted in a proposal for the UK to have a new power to issue an unexplained wealth order, which we believe will give the UK the power to act decisively on corrupt assets.”
“It focuses on the suspicious activity reports (SARS) that businesses are required to submit to the National Crime Agency if they are suspicious about a transaction or activity,” he added. “Around 14,000 SARS per year are so suspicious that the private sector asks for permission from law enforcement to handle the transaction, with many more suspicious transactions likely going unreported.
“New analysis shows that, in 2014, UK law enforcement was able to act on just seven reports of suspicious financial transactions, identified as linked to international corruption. This underlines the limited powers that the UK has to restrain those transactions.
Transparency International UK has recently teamed up with a group of experts to address the UK’s inability to act decisively and proactively on corrupt assets and has developed a proposal for an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO).
This new power would allow law enforcement agencies in the UK to start questioning and acting on corrupt assets, without having to wait for a prosecution in the home country.