Treasury to scrap money laundering offences

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By Legal Futures

28 March 2011

Money laundering: exemption for businesses with very low turnovers

The government intends to abolish more than 24 regulatory offences under the money laundering regulations, the Treasury has revealed.

It is also working with some of the largest City law firms and other major services providers to launch a “log of professional readiness” that will help school leavers and undergraduates prepare to apply for jobs in the City.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to “reform our burdensome money laundering regime” in last week’s Budget, and the government’s Plan for Growth, published at the same time, says it will consult shortly on detailed proposals for changes to the law “to further strengthen the risk-based approach”.

This will include the abolition of “over two dozen regulatory offences” and introduction of an exemption for businesses with “very low turnovers”.

The report says the members of the high-powered Professional and Business Services Group – set up in March 2010 with the senior partners of Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Simmons & Simmons and Pinsent Masons among its members – and other leading firms will launch the “log of professional readiness” by June.

This will enable school leavers and undergraduates to record work experience, relevant gap-year activity, positions of responsibility and leadership, active citizenship and volunteering, and “extra-curricular investment in employability such as language practice or youth work”. This will enable firms “to be clear about the skills they need and allow young people to communicate their employability in a way businesses will recognise”.

The report affirms the government’s commitment to encouraging “talented students into the professions regardless of their background”. A working group convened by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills will propose measures to improve access to the profession, it says. Its focus will initially be on the accountancy, audit and related professions, and especially whether a new accountancy apprenticeship programme would be effective.

The plan also says the Ministry of Justice will work with UK Trade & Investment and the legal profession on an “industry-led promotion of the UK as the world leader in legal arbitration and commercial law services”.

It says the opening of the new Rolls Commercial Court building later this year “will be used as an opportunity to build on the marketing of UK legal and dispute resolution services both here and overseas”.

The government says it will seek the removal of trade barriers for the professional and business services sector in non-EU markets, “including working with our European partners on negotiations in the Doha round [of World Trade Organisation talks] and in bilateral free trade agreements”, and press the European Commission and other EU members state to implement the Services Directive in full.

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