A day of action by National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) partners will target money service businesses (MSBs) at risk of being used by criminals to launder money. Officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the City of London Police will visit every MSB in the City of London. These businesses have been identified as potentially at risk of being used for money laundering or terrorist financing. Some 90 businesses will receive educational visits by the joint teams who will highlight the risks within the sector.
MSBs are an attractive target for organised crime groups. The trade in high volumes of cash and the ability to convert denominations, currencies or transfer money electronically are all useful to those seeking to launder money.
Their involvement can be unwitting, complicit or as a result of negligence, and acts as an enabler for organised crime. Investigations have revealed MSBs laundering money for the full spectrum of criminals, ranging from street gangs through to international organised crime groups.
Graeme Biggar, director general at the NECC, explained: “Money service businesses are vulnerable to exploitation by criminals looking to launder the proceeds of crime and, in some cases, they are complicit in the criminality. This ability to ‘clean’ money is key for criminals and, as such, we fully support this joint operation by our partners to raise awareness among operators of money service businesses, and to identify and disrupt the crime that takes place through them.”
Commander Karen Baxter of the City of London Police, and the national co-ordinator for economic crime, added: “Criminals often try to exploit professional services in the financial sector to commit money laundering. A prime target can be MSBs. As such, it’s important that people who work in these types of companies take the necessary precautions to stop it from happening. Money laundering is vital to criminal networks and, in working with the NECC and HMRC to expose and disrupt these activities in the City, as well as educate MSBs on the red flags, we will ultimately prevent very serious crimes from being committed.”
An HMRC spokesperson stated: “MSBs must play their part in making money laundering more and more difficult for criminals by complying in full with their obligations under the regulations. We remain committed to helping MSBs who want to comply with the regulations, while rigorously rooting out and tackling those who don’t.”