Thousands of firms fined for breaching money laundering regulations, figures reveal

More than 2,000 firms were fined for breaching anti-money laundering regulations in 2020, a major report has revealed.

The figures have been published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which, alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and other bodies, monitors and enforces the regulations in the UK.

According to the research, HMRC completed over 2,000 interventions on supervised businesses between 2019 and 2020, resulting in fines totalling £9.1 million.

Around 89 interventions also resulted in the closure of 89 non-compliant businesses and the recovery of more than £166 million under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

HMRC said the majority of these breaches related to poor risk assessments and record keeping, inadequate policies, controls and procedures, and a failure to meet “fundamental” customer due diligence requirements.

An intervention can result in a financial penalty, a censuring statement, a suspension or prohibition on management of a relevant business upon a person, the suspension or cancellation of a registration or business, and a criminal investigation.

Commenting on the figures, Nick Sharp, Deputy Director of Economic Crime, Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Businesses who fail to comply with the money laundering regulations leave themselves, and the UK economy, open to attacks by criminals.

“Money laundering is not a victimless crime. Criminals use laundered cash to fund serious organised crime, from drug importation to child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and even terrorism.

“We’re here to help businesses protect themselves from those who would prey on their services. That includes taking action against the minority who fail to meet their legal obligations under the regulations as this record fine clearly shows.”

The latest figures suggest that around 31,000 money service or financial businesses are supervised by HMRC each year.

For help and advice on matters relating to corporate and commercial law, please get in touch with Maung Aye at Mackrell.Solicitors.

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Maung Aye
Maung is a partner in our Corporate and Commercial department. He joined Mackrell.Solicitors following corporate law positions in London and in a leading regional firm in Essex. Maung read European Legal Studies at Lancaster University and the Università degli Studi di Trento and is a fluent Italian speaker.