MPs call for new law to retrieve crime money

The Home Affairs Select Committee has called on the government to create a new law making it an offence to refuse to hand over money and assets derived from crime.

The Committee claimed that the current system for enforcing confiscation orders imposed by the courts was not working, with only 26p in every £100 being recouped. It added that the system for monitoring suspicious financial activity was overloaded and claimed were not enough skilled investigators.

The report found that: money laundering was ‘undoubtedly a problem’ in the UK; poor supervision of the London property market had allowed it to become a safe haven for money-laundering criminals; a database used to log suspicious financial activity was ‘heavily overloaded and therefore rendered completely ineffective’; and recommended that new formula for allocating recovered assets needs to be brought in to ensure that at least 10 per cent of the wealth is returned or donated to the communities which have suffered at the hands of criminals.

Keith Vaz, committee chairman, said: "At least £100 billion, equivalent to the GDP of Ukraine, is being laundered through the UK every year. The proceeds of crime legislation has failed to achieve its purpose."

A spokesman for the Home Office, said: "We are committed to attacking criminal finances, making it harder to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime, as set out in the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy.

"And there is clear evidence we are making progress in this effort; the government seized a total of £1.2 billion from criminals between April 2010 and March 2016, with more assets recovered in 2015-16 than ever before."