With the UK going to the polls in a general election on 4 July, all polls are pointing to a Labour government. Economic crime is likely to be very high on Sir Keir Starmer’s agenda. In fact, seeing the UK as a haven for dirty money has been one of the guiding principles of Labour throughout the last 14 years of opposition.

If Labour form the next government, economic crime is likely to form the backbone of initial legislation given the unending criticism of the UK’s role in the ‘global laundromat,’ which London was called by shadow foreign secretary David Lammy.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption, headed by Labour grandee Dame Margaret Hodge, recently produced a thorough manifesto on tackling economic crime. If the polls are correct and Keir Starmer is set for a stonking majority in the next parliament, it’s hard to imagine what of Hodge’s agenda would be omitted.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax and the APPG on Fair Business Banking jointly launched the economic crime manifesto in which the group lays out four principles for pragmatic reform to clean the UK’s finance sector: Transparency, regulation, enforcement and accountability.

While the group acknowledged progress in recent years, specifically the passage of the UK’s two Economic Crime Acts in 2022 and 2023, they say there is still a long way to go to stop the flow of dirty money in the UK. 

“The flawed Economic Crime Act cannot be the end of the road. By putting proper transparency, tough enforcement, genuine accountability and smart regulation at the heart of all we do, we can send the world’s crooks and kleptocrats a message: Britain is once again open for clean business.” 

Dame Margaret Hodge, Chair APPG on Anti-Corruption & Responsible Tax

Hodge calls Russia’s war in Ukraine a “watershed moment” that put the spotlight on the UK’s dirty money culture and forced the government to take action. The legislation that was passed in response was a good first step but she says it was frustrating that the MPs could not persuade the government to go “further and faster.”

The manifesto declares that this year’s election winner has a “unique chance for global leadership” on tackling economic crime.

The APPG points to current loopholes that allow owners to hide behind trusts. They recommend the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies bring in public registers of company ownership. The group is also calling for tightening anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, finding ways to legally seize frozen assets and enhancing resources for enforcement by reinvesting fines in an economic crime-fighting fund.

The Labour party have also committed to a much broader corporate offence of failure to prevent economic crime. This is likely to include individual liability – meaning corporate officers could be held criminally responsible for taking a decision, or failing to take a decision, that resulted in an offence. 

Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry shed some light on a Labour government’s approach to economic crime in her public response to a Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) report on Fraud and Corruption against Government. 

“Labour would treat this crime [fraud] with the seriousness it deserves, and deliver a comprehensive plan to get a grip of fraud at every level it is affecting our country, from government departments and major corporations to small firms and ordinary households.”

Emily Thornberry, Shadow Attorney General

Compliance and the UK General Election – Special Webinar

Every sector could be impacted and every area of compliance is likely to be reviewed by the next government. From overhauls of financial services regulation, reviews of data protection law, closer alignment with EU regulations and an expansion of health and safety protections, the next parliament will see compliance at the centre of the regulatory agenda.

With everything from whistleblowing reform to overhauls of corporate governance, new employment rights like menopause leave and expanded equal pay rules, alongside crackdowns on tax evasion and expansion of the money laundering regulations, organisations large and small should prepare for the outcome of the general election.

This webinar will cover:

  • What the main parties are pledging on key compliance areas
  • Potential changes to legislation including the Equality Act, sexual harassment and employment rights
  • Expected legislation on AML, bribery, sanctions, fraud and economic crime
  • Possible expansion of regulations around GDPR, AI and health and safety
  • Preparing your organisation for future regulatory changes and new requirements