The National Crime Agency (“NCA”) has signed a memorandum of understanding to agree to share data with Transparency International U.K. (the U.K. branch of the prominent anti-corruption NGO). They aim to form a mutually beneficial relationship to give better insights into corruption trends and developments.
Transparency International is a highly regarded NGO which collects a significant amount of data relating to corruption worldwide. For example, it publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index which ranks countries on their perceived level of corruption. TI analysis often informs business strategy and policy making.
The relationship between the Economic Crime Command unit of the NCA and TI-U.K. is proposed to be informal and non-exclusive but nevertheless proactive in terms of pooling resources to increase respective efficiency and effectiveness. The two organisations aim to hold biannual meetings to foster working relationships, in conjunction with regular digital information sharing. Underpinning the rationale behind the proposed data-sharing agreement is a series of shared goals between the organisations, which include the prevention of financial loophole exploitation, and the pursuit and prosecution of those who engage in corruption and money laundering.
In 2014/15, the government seized a record £199 million from U.K. criminals, but according to a TI report from November 2015, “billions of pounds of corrupt money” enters into the U.K. every year. Therefore, the NCA/TI-UK approach to co-operation is only one of a series of recent endeavors pursued by the government.
Other activities include the NCA International Corruption Unit (ICU), which was created in May 2015 as part of the U.K. Anti-Corruption Plan which combined the remits of the Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit, the City of London Police Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit and elements of the NCA Economic Crime Command.
As of April 21 2016, further reforms on money laundering have been proposed by the government, including giving police the power to arrest public officials who cannot explain significant increases in their assets for the crime of “illicit enrichment”, and allowing the creation of “Unexplained Wealth Orders” which would force those suspected of money laundering to declare the origin of their wealth.
Home Secretary Theresa May has said that “Britain’s world leading financial system is at risk of being undermined by money laundering, illicit finance, and the funding of terrorism”. It remains to be seen whether the effects of the government’s proposals will have the desired effect of disrupting the vast economy of dirty capital.
The full memorandum of understanding between the National Crime Agency and Transparency International U.K. can be found here.