Government sets up new watchdog – Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision – to get tough on money laundering

 
Hayley Kirton
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The government is worried there are too many loopholes in the oversight of dirty money (Source: Getty)

The UK government is toughening up on money laundering by launching a watchdog to deal specifically with the crime.

The Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision, or OPBAS as it will be known for short, will sit within the Financial Conduct Authority and should be up and running by the start of next year.

The new agency should help to tighten the oversight of the laws, which is currently supervised by 25 different organisations, including 22 professional bodies for the accountancy and legal sectors.

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The Treasury said the current mish-mash of supervision left gaps in the system which could be exploited by wrongdoers. Statistics cited by the government showed serious and organised crime costs the UK at least £24bn each year.

Simon Kirby, economic secretary to the Treasury, said the new dirty money watchdog, along with updates to draft regulations on anti-money laundering which were also published today, would "bring the UK's anti-money laundering regime into line with the latest international standards, and ensure consistently high standards of supervision across all sectors, sending a strong message that money laundering and terrorist financing should not and will not be tolerated".

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Kirby added:

This government has already done more than any previous government to tackle the threat of money laundering and terrorist financing, including setting up the Panama Papers Taskforce, hosting the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May and recovering a record £255m from criminals in 2015-16.

The UK is a world-leader in the fight against corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

But more can be done.

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