Coming in its latest emerging risks bulletin, the Commission noted that the NCA had recieved more suspicious activity report submissions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A statement from the bulletin read: “The NCA during COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in SAR submissions and it is vital that operators submit a SAR to the United Kingdom’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) whenever there is knowledge or suspicion of money laundering or terrorist financing.
“Failure to do so may result in licensees committing a criminal offence.”
The UK’s current money laundering regulations came into effect in January 2020, and the increased suspicious activity reported to the NCA has prompted the Commission to call for stricter due diligence checks from operators.
Cryptoasset payments have also been flagged as high risk with regards to money laundering. Operators have been asked by the Commission to remain on alert, as the number of Bitcoin and crypto scams are expected to rise in the next few years according to the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service.
The Commission notes that the threat of organised crime is increasing globally, meaning that operators should properly scrutinise the source of customer’s funds.
This includes monitoring transactions to customers in high-risk third countries such as Barbados, Cayman Islands, Cambodia and Senegal. Pakistan was recently added to the risk of high-risk countries by the UK government. These countries are considered to carry an increased threat of being used as a middle step in money laundering.