U.K. Brings in Top Bankers to Fight Financial Crime

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government drafted in senior executives from banking giants Barclays Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Banco Santander SA to help it combat financial crime.

The new Economic Crime Strategic Board, led by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Sajid Javid, will meet twice a year to help set priorities and direct resources for tackling money-laundering, bribery, corruption and fraud. Law enforcement officials, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents will also be represented on the board, according to a government statement.

The National Crime Agency received a record number of so-called suspicious activity reports last year, according to Monday’s statement. The number of reports increased by about 10 percent to 463,938 during 2017-2018 from the year-earlier period, including a 20 percent jump in requests for a defense against money laundering. These are made by companies concerned that the assets they are handling are in some way criminal.

Concerns about financial crime became acute in Europe last year as Denmark’s biggest bank, Danske Bank A/S, was embroiled in a $230 billion money laundering case. Danske whistle-blower Howard Wilkinson has said shell companies based in the U.K. played a key role in the dirty-money machine.

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