If the UK is to stand any chance of identifying and confronting illicit finance, it needs to place intelligence at the heart of its response according to the director of the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI’s) Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies
Tom Keatinge also argues that both dirty money and legitimate funds entering the UK in support of activity aimed at undermining parliamentary democracy threaten national security.
In an article published on the RUSI web site, Keatinge is responding to the release of a parliamentary report – commonly referred to as the Russia Report – that catalogues the UK’s role as a global hub for money laundering and illicit finance.
It describes how the UK and its financial hub the City of London in particular have the elements that for some people make it the money laundering capital of the world, with ‘enablers’; ‘investor visas’; ‘estate agents’ and ‘light and limited touch’ regulation.
The report’s main conclusion is that the UK has left it too late to untangle the web of Russian influence that permeates the country’s political and business elite. “Russian influence in the UK is ‘the new normal’,” the article says.
National security focus
Keatinge points out that unlike other members of the global Five Eyes intelligence community – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US – the UK has no system in place to monitor funds flowing into and out of the country.
He concludes that on top of a greatly enhanced law enforcement capacity, the UK needs to develop a national security dimension that is appropriately resourced to meet the threat of illicit financial flows.
Keatinge’s article, Get Serious: Illicit Finance is a UK National Security Threat, can be found here.
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