Under new laws Britain’s Treasury Committee can order the siezure of assets if their owner(s) are unable to explain the source(s) of their funds; providing misleading statements could result in fines or up to two years in the cooler.
Following reports of crime proceeds worth billions of pounds being funneled into the British property market, British lawmakers have begun a fresh investigation into how the country is tackling such economic offenses, including terrorist financing and money laundering.
On Thursday, the Treasury Committee, comprising of multi-party members, said it would also scrutinize the nature and scale of economic crimes faced by consumers, including scams, and evaluate the efficacy with which financial companies can combat them while securing their client’s data.
According to an estimate by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), from September 2017 upto February 2018, there were 3.2 million cases of frauds in the country.
“Given the threats that face the UK, the effectiveness of the regimes that we use to protect our financial system from misuse have never been more important,” said Nicky Morgan, the chair of the committee.
The Committee is calling for written evidence which needs to be submitted by May 8 after which it will decide as to who it will call for further questioning.
Although there is, as yet, a lack of clarity as to the quantum of money that has been laundered through Britain in the last financial year, going by the estimates of the National Crime Agency (NCA), a UK prosecutor said it is in the range of $50 billion to $127 billion ((36 billion pounds to 90 billion pounds) .
Investors from China, Russia and the Middle East have sunk in billions of pounds into Britain – from buying entire companies to the country’s real estate, fantastic sums of money have been invested in the country, transparency campaigners however say the source of these funds are questionable.
According to Transparency International, an anti-corruption group, it has identified properties worth $6.2 billion (4.4 billion pounds) that have been purchased through suspect wealth.
Britain has let it be known, it will use its new powers, termed as unexplained wealth orders (UWO), to seize the UK assets of corrupt politicians and foreign criminals and clamp down on dirty money that it being washed through London, in particular.
In February, the NCA said, it had secured UWOs worth 22 million pounds from two properties which it believes were ultimately owned by a “politically exposed person”.
As per Britain’s new law, assets can be seized from owners if they are unable to explain the source of funds; misleading statements can result in the slapping of fines of up to two years in jail.
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