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JMLIT: UK dirty money plan stirs ‘policy capture’ debate

Banks avoid new criminal law, as government relies more on public-private model to fight money laundering.

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Across Europe, it is becoming the consensus that the best way to tackle money laundering is closer cooperation between states, and between authorities and the banks. Supranational bodies such as Europol and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – the international standard-setter for anti-money laundering – as well as trade bodies like the European Banking Federation, all hold up the benefits of public-private partnerships to counter financial crime.

So far, the UK’s Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT) – where law enforcement agencies regularly convene with banks to share information, set up in 2016 – has gained international approval from the likes of FATF, especially for the way it improves some of the banks’ reports of suspicious activity. Now, more countries are considering following suit, notably in Scandinavia, after a recent slew of money-laundering scandals involving Nordic banks.

According to British home secretary Sajid Javid and chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond, JMLIT “demonstrates what a successful public-private partnership can achieve”. And as JMLIT has directly contributed to the seizure or restraint of more than £34 million in illicit funds, their new economic crime plan (released in mid July) envisages similar partnerships with other sectors, such as telecoms companies and social media.

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