Budget 2020: Govt to press ahead with levy aimed at tackling money laundering

The UK government intends to introduce a levy to be paid by firms subject to the Money Laundering Regulations to help fund new government action to tackle money laundering.

In today’s Budget 2020 documents, the government said the levy would also help to ensure delivery of the reforms committed to in the Economic Crime Plan.

“These reforms will help safeguard the UK’s global reputation as a safe and transparent place to conduct business,” the government said.

“The levy will be additional to ongoing public sector funding. The government will publish a consultation on the levy later this spring.”

Shieldpay chief legal and compliance officer Willem Wellinghoff said: “Whilst the concept on the face does make some sense, it is yet very unclear how the levy will be applied to combat financial crime in the UK. It would need a lot more thought on how the levy would benefit the UK, the markets, and also who would be responsible for collecting it so a consultation is welcome.

“The UK financial services market already spends a large part of its annual budgets on compliance and combatting financial crime, and therefore any levy might potentially be seen as punitive. It is also worth noting it’s not solely financial firms required to maintain adequate controls to combat financial crime, the obligations extend to a much wider array of businesses. It would only be fair that such levy be extended to these businesses too. Singling out the financial markets alone would be seen as unfair.

“The challenge that exists in the UK is that it is still very easy to incorporate corporate and complex structures which are currently not verified or monitored by government agencies such as Companies House. While this allows the UK to be a major player in the global market, unless the levy will be used to part fund such resources, it will be a challenge to establish credible deterrents against financial crime.”

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