UK economic crime regime

This guide to the UK economic crime regime sets out information on the relevant legislation impacting solicitors and firms.

Money Laundering Regulations 2017

The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLRs 2017) set out the main anti-money laundering (AML) requirements for firms.

This legislation has been amended by the:

The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2023 further amend the MLRs 2017 to require enhanced due diligence (EDD) on domestic politically exposed persons (PEPs) to be less than in relation to foreign PEPs (as required by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023).

The 2023 regulations come into force on 10 January 2024.

Explore our quick guide to the MLRs 2017

From 11 March to 9 June 2024, HM Treasury is consulting on improving the effectiveness of the MLRs 2017.

Find out what we're doing and how to get involved

The other main pieces of legislation to be aware of are the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) and the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT), which set out the main requirements to report suspicious activity to the National Crime Agency (NCA) and related offences.

Read the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) money laundering offences guidance

Economic Crime Act 2022

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 introduced:

  • the register of overseas entities holding UK real estate
  • strengthened unexplained wealth orders
  • a strict civil liability test for monetary penalties for sanctions enforcement

Learn more about the Economic Crime Act 2022

Economic Crime Act 2023

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 introduced:

  • a regulatory objective to the Legal Services Act 2007 on tackling economic crime
  • reforms to Companies House to prevent the creation of, and shutting down of, fraudulent companies
  • reforms to prevent the abuse of limited partnerships
  • additional powers to seize and recover suspected criminal cryptoassets
  • a “failure to prevent fraud” offence
  • measures to address strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs)

Learn more about the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023

Changes to UK company law

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act will introduce a number of changes over the next few years.

Find out more about everything you need to know about the new measures

UK sanctions regime

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 provides the main legal basis for the UK to impose, update and lift sanctions.

Find out more about the UK sanctions regime

Criminal Justice Bill

The Criminal Justice Bill includes economic crime measures on:

  • reforming the confiscation regime to address concerns on complexity and enforcement
  • enabling a corporate body or partnership to be held criminally liable where a “senior manager commits non-economic crime related offences while acting within the actual or apparent authority granted by the organisation”
  • a voluntary suspended funds scheme to allow the financial sector to transfer monies that they hold suspended on suspicion of criminality to government
  • a ban on the possession and supply of “SIM farms”
  • law enforcement powers to block access to domain names and IP addresses used to conduct criminal activities

Read the government’s Criminal Justice Bill factsheets

Independent review of disclosure and fraud offences

The Home Office has published the preliminary findings of the independent review of disclosure and fraud offences regime.

The review looks at how the disclosure regime is working in a digital age and if fraud offences meet the challenges of investigating and prosecuting modern fraud.

Suggestions from the preliminary findings include:

  • imposing sanctions on prosecutors who miss deadlines and defendants who fail to engage
  • a “bespoke solution” for the magistrates’ courts, where statutory disclosure requirements are frequently breached
  • exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to support the criminal disclosure regime and improve case progression

The findings so far point towards a need for better training and resources for disclosure issues across all parts of the criminal justice system.

Explore the preliminary findings of the independent review

I want to know more

We’re here to help you keep ahead of your regulatory obligations and minimise risk with a package of expert guidance, advice and resources.

Join AML specialists and experts from across the legal sector at our AML and Financial Crime Conference 2024 on Thursday 26 September.

Explore our AML resources for solicitors and firms

The anti-money laundering guidance for the legal sector is designed to help legal professionals and firms comply.

Check the guidance for legal sector

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