Syedur Rahman of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli assesses the possibilities.
The UK is being warned that London will attract more laundered money if any finalised Brexit deal does not include measures for close co-operation with EU authorities.
Commentators have made the forecast after European finance ministers discussed stepping up their anti-money laundering measures while announcing plans for improving the exchange of information. The fear is that the UK could lose access to such arrangements – and, as a result, vital intelligence - if an appropriate agreement is not struck in the wake of Brexit.
This, it is argued, could mean that political wrangling leads to the European Union coming to believe it cannot work closely with the UK on money laundering, despite previous statements that this would remain an “area of co-operation’’ after Brexit.
The EU’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier has said he has been disappointed by what he sees as the UK's “lack of ambition in a number of areas that may not be central to the negotiation, but which are nonetheless important and symbolic ’’. The fight against money laundering was one of the areas he cited.
There is the possibility that the UK could maintain close co-operation with the EU on money laundering through the Financial Action Task Force. But concerns have been voiced by some within the justice system that the UK could lack access to high-quality data and be viewed as a soft touch by money launderers.
With the increasing focus on a harmonised approach to combating money laundering across the board within the EU, those outside the bloc who do not maintain or exceed the same standards may find it harder to conduct business within Europe.
This month has just seen Europol launch the new European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) to enhance the operational support provided to the EU member states and EU bodies in the fields of financial and economic crime and to promote the systematic use of financial investigations. It is another reminder that the information and intelligence gathered by a co-ordinated agency can prove to be invaluable, and there is a risk that the blinds will be firmly pulled down shut on the UK if agreement is not reached.