Governments must focus on financial crime

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LONDON – Speakers at the British Bankers’ Association’s (BBA) Fifth Annual Financial Crime Conference highlighted the importance of coherency and co-operation in the fight against financial crime.

“The government has not accepted the case for fraud and financial crime to be a law enforcement priority in its own right,” said Angela Knight, chief executive of the BBA. Banks are frustrated at being forced to deal with impossible government initiatives and, Knight said, coherency and co-operation is needed to combat financial crime.

Referring to the recent loss by HM Revenue and Customs of the personal details of 25 million people on the UK’s child support database, Tony McNulty, home office minister of state for security, counter-terrorism, crime and policing, said: “I don’t think the events of last week are going to do anything much to effect the debate on ID cards, identity theft or identity fraud.”

Proper data sharing between the public and private sector is essential in fighting crime, according to McNulty, who highlighted the need to close the loop holes exploited by criminals.

Fabio Marini, deputy head of unit for the fight against economic, financial and cyber crime, at the European Commission said: “Financial crime cannot be tackled by each EU member state on its own.” An effective framework of legal instruments is the key to combating financial crime in the EU, said Marini, who also emphasised plans for a new anti-corruption directive and the need to remove legal loopholes in individual member states, to strengthen the EU-wide chain of security.

There were regulatory updates from both the UK and US, outlining the US authorities’ concentration on overseas financial crime – particularly through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – and the UK Financial Services Authority’s new financial crime intelligence division.

The UK Attorney General’s Office announced a £29 million treasury injection into its financial crime projects – which focus on mortgage fraud and insider fraud – and for the creation of the National Fraud Reporting Centre in 2009, as a result of last year’s government fraud review.

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