We will tackle economic crime by working together

Julian Dixon

September 5th, 2019

The Economic Crime Plan was a key theme in this week’s speech from Solicitor General at Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime 2019.

Published in July by the UK Government, the Economic Crime Plan sets out an ambitious three-year agenda for tackling economic crimes like money laundering and terrorist financing. Despite current efforts, these crimes are still rising in frequency and value.  

As Solicitor General reiterated, the Plan sets out for the first time how both the private and public sectors will work together to tackle economic crime.

And while public-private partnerships are not new, it’s a very positive step to see the wheels in motion for a comprehensive joined up approach.


Public-private partnerships are essential to cracking economic crime

We all know how tough economic crime is to crack.

Criminals are constantly adapting their techniques to remain under the radar. Their increasing sophistication means the public and private sectors need to pool resources, experiences and capabilities – including the use of innovative technologies.

New technology will help us get ahead of criminals

By working together and deploying better technology we can reduce economic crime. A regime that allows this to happen without barriers is essential if we are to achieve a level of intelligence that puts us ahead of criminals.

By working together, we can achieve more…

The Economic Crime Plan follows extensive consultation with public sector representatives and more than 120 private sector and civil society organisations.

And it builds on the success other private-public partnerships, which are already achieving great success. For example, since its inception, the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT), which consists of 40 financial institutions, has supported and developed over 600 law enforcement investigations. Similarly, the Joint Fraud Taskforce (JFT), which is a partnership between banks, law enforcement and government, has led to over 400 arrests since 2016.

…but the proof will be in the pudding

There’s less than a year to go until the Economic Crime Strategic Board will review the Plan and make a statement on progress.

On paper, the Economic Crime Plan reflects the UK government is absolutely committed to strengthening and continuously improving its systems for combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.

But, aspirations aside, what really matters is the difference it makes.

With more than 50 actions, there’s a lot do to

More than 50 actions for improvement have been set out within seven priority areas. These have been assigned to responsible organisations with either a due date or an ongoing status. While they are very broad and the detail is sparse, it’s only reasonable to expect each and every action will be met.

This makes the Plan’s key economic crime performance questions (KPQs) integral to evaluating its success.

What’s more, the Plan’s ability to adapt to emerging threats will be just as important. Economic crime threats are constantly evolving, so the Plan will need to evolve too.

Will funding be an issue?

Time will tell.

The information on funding is disappointingly limited. It’s even rather appropriately described by Isabella Chase from RUSI as “the elephant in the room”.

That said, now that there is a plan in place, we will certainly see a more focused effort in tackling the ever-present challenge of economic crime.

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