MPs today called for a crack down on “dirty money” as they argued City bosses should face jail if they fail to prevent illicit cash from flowing through the UK’s financial system.
In launching an Economic Crime manifesto, the cross-party MPs said the UK and its overseas territories have played a key role in enabling kleptocrats worldwide, including those propping up the Kremlin, as they said the UK needs “smarter regulation” to tackle money laundering.
Labour MP Margaret Hodge warned that “London is now the laundromat for washing dirty cash,” as she argued a lack of proper enforcement has seen the UK become “the jurisdiction of choice for dirty money”.
The Labour grandee called on the government to bolster the UK’s fraud and money laundering investigators, as she warned that Britain’s agencies are “completely outgunned” and “not fit for purpose”.
Hodge called on the government to take a tougher stance towards the “individuals who enable economic crime,” as she argued the UK’s failure to tackle financial crime has “exacerbated regional inequalities, inflated our property market, and allowed fraudsters to run amok”.
Tory titan Kevin Hollinrake said company bosses who fail to prevent financial crime should be held criminally liable for their failures, as he noted similar measures holding bosses accountable for accidents at work had helped improve health and safety.
The Conservative MP said that by bolstering efforts to tackle economic crime, the UK could “recoup hundreds of billions of pounds in taxpayer losses,” as he called for greater protections for whistle-blowers.
Both MPs agreed there are “vested interests” blocking efforts to fight financial crime, as Hodge warned the UK government is “frightened of challenging the bad practices of players in the financial services sector.”
Hollinrake also said UK banks should guarantee they will return any money stolen from customers bank accounts, in line with TSB’s policy of returning 100 per cent of fraud victims’ money.
Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International, called on the UK government to “end to secrecy in Britain’s offshore financial centres” as he argued Britain must boost “funding for law enforcement to go after money launderers.”