Financial Conduct Authority  

MPs question regulators after money laundering leak

MPs question regulators after money laundering leak
 Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The chairman of the Treasury Committee has written to the Financial Conduct Authority, government ministers and HM Revenue & Customs following the leak of the FinCEN papers.

In a letter to the regulator, Mel Stride asked Chris Woolard, interim chief executive of the FCA, what action the watchdog was taking following the publication of the FinCEN files.

Other questions put to Mr Woolard include what needs to be done to “further secure” the financial system from economic crime, in light of the information in the FinCEN files, and whether reports that the UK was a “higher-risk” jurisdiction were a cause for concern.

Mr Stride described the regulator as having a “core role” in combating financial crime.

The FinCEN files are made up of more than 2,500 documents, most of which were sent to the US authorities by banks between 2000 and 2017.

They include more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports filed by global banks to the US Treasury Department's intelligence unit.

Among the allegations arising from the FinCEN files was that HSBC allowed fraudsters to transfer millions of dollars around the world, even after it had learned of their scam, and that JP Morgan allowed a company to transfer $1bn through a London account without knowing who owned it - it later transpired it might be owned by a mobster on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.

Additional questions posed by Mr Stride to government ministers and HMRC include whether UK law enforcement agencies were following up on information in the FinCEN papers, and whether HMRC was an “effective” money laundering supervisor for those within its jurisdiction.

Mr Stride said: “Some of the information coming from the release of the FinCEN papers is deeply troubling. The Treasury Committee wants to know whether ministers, HMRC and the FCA are on top of this.

“With various roles to play in combatting economic crime, it’s vital that the appropriate parts of the system are ready to act, if required.”

chloe.cheung@ft.com

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