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Chancellor of the Exchequer
10 December 2019
I am today calling on you to take action as soon as possible
to ensure new regulations relating to money laundering are published without
The Fifth EU Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) entered into
force in July 2018 and Member States are required to transpose the provisions
into domestic law by 10 January 2020. Today therefore marks exactly one month
until the new regulations are due to take effect.
The Treasury published its consultation on the transposition
of the Directive in April but since then the political situation, and the uncertainty
as to the UK’s status in relation to the EU, have regrettably served to prevent
this important issue commanding the attention it deserves. As a result, the
necessary regulations have yet to be laid before Parliament.
It is not just big banks that are affected by the
regulations: law firms, accountancy practices, estate agents and firms dealing
in high-value goods are all directly affected, regardless of their size. The
new provisions under 5MLD bring art dealerships into scope, as well as letting agents
dealing with rental property over €10,000 pcm. These businesses all need to act
now to ensure they can be fully compliant.
The Directive explicitly refers to electronic verification
(EV) of identity in relation to firms’ Know Your Customer (KYC) and Customer
Due Diligence (CDD) obligations. EV has been proven to be more effective than
manual checks, where criminals have become increasingly adept at producing
forged or altered documents that are difficult even for experts to detect.
The Directive calls for EV to be used where available but we
believe this does not go far enough. We would urge the UK government to go one
step further and make the use of EV mandatory.
This would not constitute an increased regulatory burden or
‘gold-plating’ of the Directive: as well as being more secure than manual
checks, electronic verification and screening is generally quicker and more
cost-effective for firms to implement. Digital solutions can also enable more
effective Sanctions and Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) screening, and
provide ongoing monitoring.
Money laundering is responsible for financing some of the
most serious criminal activity, from drug cartels through to people-trafficking
and terrorism. It is rightly a high priority not just for EU Member States but
for governments across the world, with the Financial Action Task Force
increasingly co-ordinating global efforts to tackle the problem.
The UK has been a powerful voice in these efforts and it is
vital for our economic success now and in the future that we continue to show
global leadership. To attract legitimate investment, we need to provide
reassurance that our markets are as free as possible from the taint of
With very best wishes for success in your important role,