Economic crime and corruption do great harm to individuals, businesses, the integrity of our financial system and the UK’s international reputation. We must do more on economic crime to safeguard our prosperity, and the UK’s reputation as a world-leading place to do business.
The Government is making a step-change in its response to the threat. A broad and deep public-private partnership is at the heart of this new approach. The Minister of State for Security will become the Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime. Further, the Government will:
- Establish a new Ministerial Economic Crime Strategic Board chaired by the Home Secretary, to agree strategic priorities across Government; ensure resources are allocated to deliver those priorities; and scrutinise performance and impact against the economic crime threat.
- Create a new multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) hosted in the National Crime Agency to task and coordinate the law enforcement response, working in the closest possible partnership with the private sector.
- Create a dedicated team to use the power in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 to forfeit criminal money held in suspended bank accounts.
- Legislate to give the National Crime Agency powers to directly task the Serious Fraud Office, who will continue to operate as an independent organisation.
- Publish draft legislation on the creation of a register of the beneficial ownership of overseas companies and other entities that own property in the UK or participate in Government contracts.
- Reform of the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime, in partnership with the private sector, law enforcement and regulators, to reduce tick-box compliance, direct the regime to focus on the highest threats, help firms better protect themselves and improve law enforcement outcomes.
- Review disclosure procedures to explore how to make prosecutorial processes more effective and efficient. The Attorney-General will lead this work.
- Support a Law Commission review of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to identify improvements to our powers to confiscate proceeds of crime.
In addition, the Government is today publishing the UK’s first cross-government Anti-Corruption Strategy, and the Prime Minister has appointed John Penrose MP as her Anti-Corruption Champion. A copy will be available from Gov.UK and placed in the House Library.
The Strategy provides a framework to guide UK government efforts against corruption both domestically and internationally for the period up to 2022. It sets six priorities to:
- reduce the insider threat in high risk domestic sectors (ports and borders, prisons, policing, defence);
- strengthen the integrity of the UK as a centre of global finance;
- promote integrity across the public and private sectors;
- reduce corruption in public procurement and grants;
- improve the business environment globally; and
- work with other countries to combat corruption.
There will be ministerial oversight of implementation and my department will provide an annual written update to parliament on progress.
To support the delivery of these commitments, responsibility for the Joint Anti-Corruption Unit will transfer from the Cabinet Office to the Home Office. This change will be effective immediately.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: