UK Economic Crime Plan Draws Allegations of ‘Policy Capture’ from Critics: FT
15 Jul 2019

A new UK plan to tackle economic crime would fail to hold companies sufficiently liable for illicit activity beyond bribery and tax evasion, anti-corruption campaigners told the Financial Times.

Under current laws, British firms can only be deemed guilty of other financial crimes if the “directing mind”—a senior manager empowered to implement a criminal scheme—is proven to be involved in, or have known of, the illicit activity. Nonprofit groups and others have campaigned for reforms that would make it possible to prosecute companies even when a “directing mind” can’t be explicitly tied to criminality.

“The absence of any mention of corporate-liability reform in this plan is a major failure of political will,” Sue Hawley of Corruption Watch told the newspaper. “You can’t tackle economic crime fairly and justly in the UK without making sure that the big financial actors in this country can be held accountable before the law equally to the rest of us.”

The criticism comes as advocacy groups have raised concerns that the UK’s pending exit from the European Union could put the nation at greater risk of money laundering and other financial wrongdoing.

The economic crime plan, first outlined in January by the Economic Crime Strategic Board, would reform the UK’s suspicious activity reporting regime and make it easier for law enforcement officials to seize illicit assets, the FT said. The initiative also cites the creation of a recently-convened “strategic board” to oversee economic-crime policy for the country.

But while the board is comprised of officials from the Serious Fraud Office, regulators, police and other government representatives, it also includes bankers from HSBC, Standard Chartered, Barclays and other lenders, according to the report. The inclusion of banks that have in recent years paid sizeable fines for failing to prevent illicit activity has led to allegations of “policy capture” by anti-corruption advocates, the FT said.

“To all intents and purposes the [strategic board] is formalised policy capture of the economic crime agenda by precisely the corporations it ought to be policing,” Naomi Hirst, a senior campaigner at Global Witness told the FT. “Now they have been invited to have an exclusive seat at the table to determine their own regulations.”

In a foreword to the publication, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Philip Hammond characterized the plan as “an ambitious agenda to strengthen our whole-system response for tackling economic crime.”

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One Response to “UK Economic Crime Plan Draws Allegations of ‘Policy Capture’ from Critics: FT”
tris hicks

tris hicks July 12, 2019

Laughing all the way to the bank.

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