Money laundering in the UK is now a “very big problem”, admitted NCA director of prosperity Donald Toon and SFO interim director Mark Thompson to a treasury committee yesterday, revealing that £150bn or more is laundered here annually.
However, the pair were accused of providing “more excuses than explanations” and that “the urgency of the matter is not being appreciated” while confronting the allegation that the UK is now the “destination of choice for Russian money”.
Toon further denied that Bitcoin is now the “crooks’ currency of choice”, but agreed that tracing cryptocurrencies is “difficult, complicated and can be blocked”.
Fortytwo Data CEO Julian Dixon said: “Financial crime in the UK is a problem that still does not get the attention it deserves, despite the SFO admitting that £150 billion or more is laundered here every year.
“Technology has moved much of this suspicious activity online and, for too long, the bodies we have trusted to police it have been behind the curve in putting measures in place to tackle it. Indeed, they often appear to be unwilling to do what is required to address the money laundering and fraud happening on their doorstep.
“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are widely misunderstood and regulating them is now almost impossible. That horse bolted a long time ago and all the Treasury Committee meeting showed is that the UK is currently both oblivious to how it works and ill-equipped to deal with its risks.
“As if the task of cracking down on financial crime wasn’t already difficult enough, we have an open door policy on cryptocurrency in the UK which will leave fraudsters and money launderers free to continue offending at will.”
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