On 9 July 2019, the FCA published its Anti-money Laundering (AML) Annual Report for 2018/2019. The report echoes Mark Steward’s comments in a speech earlier this year in relation to the FCA’s increasing focus on criminal investigations for money laundering.
The newly published Report states that ‘some’ of the FCA’s current AML investigations are now dual track (i.e. investigations which may result in either criminal or civil proceedings). The FCA describes these dual track investigations as helping the FCA to ‘fully understand what happened, what action to take and which tools to use.’
Since 2012, the FCA has concluded 22 AML and anti-bribery and corruption enforcement actions. The Annual Report states that the FCA have over 60 ongoing AML investigations, compared to 75 such investigations in last year’s annual report published on 19 July 2018. While it is unclear how many ongoing investigations are dual track, the Report notes that the FCA has commenced a ‘small number’ of investigations where there may be misconduct justifying criminal prosecution under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (MLRs).
However, the FCA have indicated that in general criminal prosecutions under the MLRs will only be considered in the most egregious of cases and as mentioned in a previous blog post, we expect that the norm for the FCA will be a continued focus on regulatory enforcement of financial crime where it identifies systems and controls-related issues.