The number of UK professionals fined for money laundering fell last year by 20 per cent from a record high in 2015-16.
According to data included in a new report by HM Treasury the number of professionals, including accountants and lawyers, fined for money laundering in 2016-17 fell 20 per cent to 935 from a record high of 1,170 in 2015-16.
The scale of the UK’s problem with money laundering is indicated by the report which said that in 2015 the UK accounted for 40 per cent of the legal and accountancy “red flags” in Europe.
“We have seen exceptional levels of suspicious activity reports from the financial, accountancy and legal sectors,” the report said.
According to the National Crime Agency at least £90bn in criminal proceeds is believed to be laundered each year in the UK.
The accountancy sector saw 23 accountants expelled for money laundering breaches in 2016-17 and also saw a 150 per cent increase in the number of fines levied from 14 up to 35.
Julian Dixon, chief executive of specialist anti-money laundering firm Fortytwo Data, said: “Any professional tempted to help criminals launder their ill-gotten millions could not have escaped the huge amount of publicity levelled at professionals over the last few years.
“The spike in expulsions of accountants over the past two years shows why there is no room for complacency.”
Anti-corruption group Transparency International published a report in November last year that claimed that the UK was at the heart of global money laundering and corruption.
The research found that more than 760 companies registered in the UK were involved in laundering stolen money from at least 13 countries, as part of of analysis of 52 cases of global corruption worth £80bn.