Government publishes new economic crime plan
The plan aims to improve the system-wide response to economic crime over the next three years
The Home Office and HM Treasury published the government’s new economic crime plan (2023-2026) on 30 March, which sets out the actions the public and private sectors should take to transform the UK’s response to economic crime. The new plan is backed by £400 million in additional investment to tackle economic crime over the next three years.
The new economic crime plan aims to build on the progress made as a result of the first economic crime plan, which was published in July 2019. The broad priority areas set out in the latest plan include: reducing money laundering and recovering more criminal assets; combatting kleptocracy and reducing sanctions evasion; cutting fraud; and reducing the threat international illicit finance poses to the UK and UK interests.
To reinforce the new economic crime plan, 475 trained financial crime investigators will be employed across intelligence, enforcement and asset recovery in key agencies. The intention is that this increased capacity will be used to aid the detection and disruption of money laundering, and the recovery of an additional £1 billion in criminal assets over the next 10 years.
The 43 new actions set out in the plan include: expanding the National Crime Agency’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell to target more corrupt elites and their enablers, while consolidating the effectiveness of UK sanctions; a £100 million investment in cutting edge technology to aid law enforcement; and the establishment of a new multi-agency crypto cell that combines law enforcement and regulators to pool expertise in order to more effectively identify, seize and store illicit crypto-assets.
Experts working for the UK’s defence and security think tank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), welcome the new plan but caution that: the additional 475 financial investigation staff allocated in the plan is not enough to turn the tide on decades of under-investment in economic crime enforcement; the government’s fraud strategy, delayed since July 2022, remains unpublished and must clearly put in place a plan for engaging social media and technology companies in the future response; and that the government does not have a long-term plan for removing the assets of sanctioned Russians from the UK economy in a rule of law compliant manner and must look beyond sanctions as the solution to the problem.
According to the government’s press release, the new economic crime plan complements the forthcoming anti-corruption strategy and fraud strategy, which are yet to be published.