A ‘more effective’ regime will be introduced to help organisations report suspicious financial activity as part of the government’s plans to ‘root out’ corruption, the Queen's speech announced. 

Following last week’s anti-corruption summit in London, legislation would be introduced to tackle corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

Although more than 350,000 suspicious activity reports (SARs) were filed with the UK Finance Unit in the National Crime Agency last year, a new Criminal Finances Bill will improve the operation of the SARs regime ‘to encourage better use’ of public and private sector resources against the highest threats, and target entities that carry out money laundering instead of individual transactions.

The National Crime Agency will also be granted new powers.

A new criminal offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion will be introduced.

The bill will also improve the ability of law enforcement agencies and courts to recover criminal assets more effectively, particularly in cases such as those linked to grand corruption.

The Law Society, responding to the speech, said it supported a global approach to tackling the global problem of tax evasion, including action to promote transparency through the cross-border exchange of information and complementary procedures between jurisdictions.

The Society added: ‘We work closely with the Fraud Lawyers Association and are engaging with the consultation on the draft legislation and guidance for the new corporate offence of failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion (at home and abroad), not least to ensure that the penalties and deterrents are proportionate.

‘We will continue to engage with any similar measures the government proposes.’