Anti-money laundering officers urged to be vigilant over cash movement

Money laundering reporting officers must balance extra vigilance about suspicious Ukrainian cash entering or leaving the UK following the ousting of President Victor Yanukovich but they cannot afford to jump to conclusions, officials said. Serious civil unrest has followed in recent days with scores of people killed.

Campaign group Transparency International (TI) issued a risk alert on Ukraine saying it believed corrupt assets might be laundered through or into the UK following the devastating upheaval in the country. It called on the government, money laundering reporting officers (MLROs), law and accountancy firms plus luxury estate agents to be on the lookout for dirty funds emerging from the country. TI said lessons needed to be learnt from the Arab Spring where, it said, there had been a slow international response to freezing assets. 

Robert Barrington, executive director of the UK arm of TI, said MLROs needed to prioritise Ukrainian transactions immediately. "With the Arab Spring it took quite a long time for everybody in London to wake up to the fact that there was a series of revolutions happening in North Africa…there was a process that took weeks. We have issued the risk alert because this looks like it is the next Arab Spring and this time let's not close the stable door after the horse has bolted. Let's act right now because we can see where this is going," he told Compliance Complete.

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