British Lawmakers Want Probe of U.K. Money-Laundering Reputation

A British parliamentary committee that scrutinizes financial affairs has asked the government and securities regulator to look into reports that the U.S. considers the country a “higher risk” jurisdiction for money laundering and economic crime.

In one of the first responses by U.K. politicians to leaked U.S. regulatory documents, Mel Stride, a member of the ruling Conservative Party and chair of the Treasury Committee, also requested that agencies review efforts to secure the financial system.

The letters dated Sept. 22 went out to Chris Woolard, interim head of the Financial Conduct Authority and Jim Harra, head of the nation’s tax collection bureau, as well as two government ministers, asking that they investigate reports from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that banks have been moving trillions of dollars of potentially illicit funds around the globe, including through the U.K.

Stride’s letter to the tax bureau also sought reassurances that anti-money laundering rules for property agents, company services providers and art dealers were robust. The description by the U.S. government of the U.K. as a “higher risk” jurisdiction came from the leaked documents, Stride wrote.

Read more on U.K. fallout from FinCEN Files

The documents, named the FinCEN Files, detailed more than $2 trillion in transactions between 1999 and 2017 that were flagged by financial institutions’ internal compliance officers as possible money laundering or other criminal activity. Almost 90 financial institutions appear in the roughly 2,100 documents used in the ICIJ story, a fraction of the 2 million reports filed annually to the U.S. Treasury.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and HSBC Holdings Plc were among the global banks named in the documents.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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