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UK accelerates laws to fight ‘dirty money’ in light of Ukraine conflict

The UK’s government has brought forward legislation to crack down on “dirty money,” as geopolitical tensions escalate following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

Due to be read out in Parliament on Tuesday, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill will help the National Crime Agency prevent foreign owners from laundering their money in UK property and ensure more corrupt oligarchs can be handed an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO).

This will form part of a raft of measures to tackle corruption and murky dealings. Through reforms of Companies House, the UK’s registrar of companies, agencies will also be given new powers to seize crypto assets.

This will bring them within the scope of civil forfeiture powers to tackle the growing threat from ransomware and the use of crypto assets for money laundering, the Home Office said. 

Strengthened anti-money laundering powers will give businesses more confidence to share information on suspected money laundering and other economic crime, it added. 

The bill has been in the works for several years and was proposed to tackle the £100 billion in illicit funds the NCA estimates is channeled through the UK each year. 

“There is no place for dirty money in the UK,” said prime minister Boris Johnson in a statement. “We are going faster and harder to tear back the façade that those supporting Putin’s campaign of destruction have been hiding behind for so long.”

It is not yet clear how the new measures will be funded, as agencies are “under-resourced,” “overstretched” and “outgunned” by criminals, according to recent reports.

   

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