The recent confirmation by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that it is investigating 18 firms involved in the sale of crypto assets, such as Bitcoin, indicates a ramping up of regulatory focus on the controversial sector.
Further developments in the first (so-called) “McMafia” case (see my related blog Media focus on first 'McMafia law' challenge) were reported yesterday when the National Crime Agency (NCA) secured the seizure of a “high value Cartier diamond ring”.
2018 saw a major drive across government to tackling illicit finance and economic crime on the basis that “corruption and economic crime undermines our economy, damages our international reputation and communities.” (December 2018 Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-20 1 Year Update” see our related blog. Key initiatives included the launch of the National Economic Crime Centre (November 2018 see our related blog) and the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy (November 2018).
At the end of 2018 the Government published its “ 1 Year Update” of the Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-20 (“the Update”). This report set out that “corruption and economic crime undermines our economy, damages our international reputation and communities.” It concludes that the Government’s “commitment and effectiveness” in this area is demonstrated by “the UK’s strong performance” in the independent review of money laundering and terrorist financing undertaken by the Financial Action Task Force and its top tier ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
In December 2018, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published its report on the UK regime to counter money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF). The report praises the strength of the UK regime, noting that the UK has a ‘robust’ understanding of ML/TF risk, and proactively investigates, prosecutes and convicts ML and TF. The report cites that the UK achieves “around 7900 investigations, 2000 prosecutions and 1400 convictions annually for stand-alone ML offences or where ML is the principle offence”.