An anti-corruption think-tank has warned the UK is losing the fight against financial crime, as a lack of funding has left the country’s law enforcement agencies “over-stretched” and “under-resourced.”
In a report, the think-tank called on the government to reinvest money recuperated from criminals into the government agencies fighting corruption and financial crime, as it warned that real terms budget cuts have left the UK’s law enforcement agencies unable to properly tackle fraud.
The UK recuperates £5 from criminals, for every £1 it invests in fighting financial crime, the report says, as it noted that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) reclaimed £1.63 bn on a budget of £304.4m over the last five years.
Financial crime costs the UK around £190 bn a year, according to figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA), while money laundering cost the UK a further £100bn.
Meanwhile, the UK’s fraud epidemic has been worsened by the impacts of Covid-19, Spotlight on Corruption warned.
The report came ahead of Conservative peer Lord Agnew’s decision to resign from his position in the House of Lords, in response to the government’s “desperately inadequate” efforts to reclaim money stolen from the Treasury through Covid loan fraud.
Lord Agnew today stood down from his role after slamming the government over its “lamentable track record” in tackling fraud.
Lord Agnew’s resignation comes after comes after the Treasury said it would write off £4.3bn of the £5.8bn in support funds mistakenly given out to people defrauding Covid support schemes.
In his resignation speech, Lord Agnew said he had found himself unable to defend the government’s record in the fight against Covid loan fraud, as he claimed the Treasury “appear to have no knowledge or little interest in the consequences of fraud to our economy or our society”.