Saturday, September 23, 2023

UK government questioned over FinCEN revelations

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Powerful UK lawmaker demands responses from UK government on ‘deeply troubling’ findings FinCEN files, a global survey based on a wealth of documents BuzzFeed News shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The investigation revealed how the western bank giants move billions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and enriching their shareholders while facilitating the actions of terrorists, kleptocrats and drug pioneers. The documents shed light on the failures of several of Britain’s biggest banks, including HSBC, Standard charter, and Barclays.

“Some of the information coming out of the release of the FinCEN documents is deeply troubling,” Mel Stride, the conservative chairman of the Parliamentary Treasury Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said he had sent a series of formal questions to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration to ask if the government was doing enough to stop money laundering and expressed particular concern over HM Revenue and Customs, the UK government’s tax collection agency and the Financial Conduct Authority, its financial crime watchdog. “The Treasury Committee wants to know if the ministers, HMRC and FCA are on top,” he wrote.

Stride demanded to know if the HMRC is “an effective supervisor of money laundering”. He also asked whether the UK law enforcement agencies “were following the information in the FinCEN documents” and whether the FCA would “take enforcement action”.

At the heart of FinCEN files are over 2,000 ‘suspicious activity reports’, which banks are required to file with the US Treasury when they detect transactions that bear the mark of money laundering or other misconduct. financial. While SARs are not in themselves evidence of a crime, they can support investigations and intelligence gathering.

British companies were appointed in suspicious activity reports more than 3,000 times – more than any other country. And a US Treasury report in FinCEN files described the UK as a “higher risk jurisdiction”, comparing it to notorious financial centers “like Cyprus”. Stride asked if the government viewed this “high-risk jurisdiction” status as “a cause for concern.”

In a letter to the FCA, Stride asked what action the UK financial regulator is taking following the findings. He also asked for clarification on what more needs to be done to “further secure the financial system against economic crime, given the information in the FinCen files”.

In another letter, this time to the UK Home Office, Stride asked whether UK law enforcement was “tracking” information from FinCEN files to see if “more could be done to tackle economic crime” . UK law also requires banks to file suspicious activity reports with the National Crime Agency, and he inquired about the implementation of an improved system to help UK law enforcement better manage the SAR.

“With various roles to play in the fight against economic crime,” Stride said in his statement, “it is essential that the appropriate parts of the system are ready to act, if necessary.


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