The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) statement of priorities for the coming year – FCA Business Plan 2019-20 – is set squarely in the global context of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and the way technology is changing how financial firms do business and consumers engage with their financial decisions.
On 4 March, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) announced that they had imposed a £215,000 fine on Countrywide estate agents for failing to register the company as required under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. This announcement was swiftly followed by the publication of the Treasury Committee report on economic crime on 8 March, where estate agents came in for stinging criticism for failing to have proper regard to money laundering compliance and risk assessment in their dealings.
In September 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment on ENRC’s appeal against Andrews J’s High Court decision in the case of The Director of the Serious Fraud Office v ENRC. The judgment has been praised for going some way to restore sense and order to the protection of legal professional privilege.
Shortly after the referendum result, I attended a meeting in Whitehall to which representatives of a wide range of criminal justice agencies had been invited. Our host, a policy official, told us that Brexit was to be viewed as an opportunity and asked us to identify the specific opportunities Brexit afforded us in our work. There was a stony silence; a tumbleweed moment. We all knew that, as the Institute for Government would later pithily observe, the UK would struggle to invent an arrangement on law enforcement co-operation with the EU that suits it better than the one it has now. What’s more, as matters stand, these arrangements will come to a grinding halt in little over a month. Where will that leave those agencies tasked with dealing with serious cross-border crime?