March 8, 2019 / 12:05 AM / 13 days ago

UK must not win trade deals by going soft on economic crime after Brexit - MPs

FILE PHOTO: The Union Jack flag is adjusted before a meeting between British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani at the EU parliament headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain must not go soft on anti-money laundering standards to win trade deals after it leaves the European Union, a panel of MPs said on Friday.

The report on economic crime from parliament’s Treasury Select Committee (TSC) also called for better estimates for such crimes, and for a single supervisor of Britain’s 25 bodies that enforce anti-money laundering rules.

Britain’s tax and revenue service should ensure that all estate agents are registered with it to ensure compliance with rules aimed at stopping proceeds of corruption being stashed in property, the report said.

Companies House, where new firms are registered, should have powers to make sure it plays no role in helping those undertaking economic crime, it added.

“With the uncertainties of Brexit around the corner, the government should regularly review the UK’s effort to combat money laundering to ensure a constant stimulus to improve,” TSC chair Nicky Morgan said in a statement.

“The government must ensure it does not bow to buccaneering deregulatory pressures and maintain its intentions to lead in the fight against economic crime.”

Despite Brexit challenges, Britain must work to keep the financial sector “clean” to match its ambitions to continue to be a leader in global financial services, it said.

The report also cautioned about overly focussing on Russia in the fight against economic crime, even though there has been a “malign influence” on the UK financial system from certain elements of Russian money.

Estimates for economic crime in Britain range from the tens of billions of pounds to hundreds of billions and the government should provide a more precise estimate so that the response is better tailored, the report said.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter

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