4th April 2023

Economic Crime Plan 2 announced by UK government

The UK government unveiled a new plan on 30th March 2023 which it claims puts the country “at the forefront of [the] fight against economic crime”.

The Economic Crime Plan 2 promises the addition of “475 new highly trained financial crime investigators” with the aim of recovering “an additional £1 billion in criminal assets over the next ten years.”

The three-year plan is linked to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill currently making its way through parliament and looks to “maximise the new powers” included in that Bill.

New levy funding

The government is making an investment of £400 million to deliver the plan, with half of the funds raised from the private sector through the Economic Crime (Anti-Money Laundering) Levy. The levy applies to anti-money laundering (AML) regulated business – such as financial institutions, estate agents and crypto exchanges – from July 2023, with the amount paid determined by an organisation’s UK revenue.

Treasury Lords Minister Baroness Penn said: “Economic crime harms our economy and destroys lives. More funding from government and the new contribution from industry through the new levy will allow us to deliver a step change in our response.”

£100 million of the investment has been earmarked for “cutting edge technology, including data analytics” for law enforcement.

A “system-wide response”

The plan aims to produce a “system-wide response to economic crime”, bringing together law enforcement, government, supervisory agencies and the private sector. Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Backed by our partnership with the private sector, we have the resources and expertise we need to identify criminal networks and confiscate the proceeds of their illicit activities.”

Response to criminals’ use of crypto

The Economic Crime Plan 2 recognises that criminals are utilising “new ways to launder their profits” and, as such, the plan includes the creation of “a new multi-agency crypto cell” aimed at the identification, seizure and storage of illicit cryptoassets.

This follows the government’s announcement last month on its plans to regulate cryptoasset activities.

The role of accountants

Responding to the role to be played by the private sector, which the government has described as “critical”, Michael Izza, Chief Executive of ICAEW, said: “A key success of the first Economic Crime Plan was developing the partnership between accountancy and the public sector to crack down on money-laundering.

“Tackling economic crime and driving dirty money out of the UK’s financial systems will be best achieved by government working closely with professional body supervisors, and we look forward to collaborating on the actions outlined in the second Economic Crime Plan.”

Similarly, accountants have been asked by the government to play a greater role in tackling fraud (through the Joint Fraud Taskforce).

Criticism of the new economic crime plan

However, the plan has drawn some criticism from the government’s political opponents (as may be expected) with Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge claiming that “no additional funding has been allocated to the fight against dirty money.”

The full plan with supporting data is available to download from the government website.

Advice and support from ESA Risk

For advice and support on economic crime issues, please contact us at advice@esarisk.com, on +44 (0)843 515 8686 or via our contact form.

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