Money laundering and the Serious Organised Crime Agency

Since 2006, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has been a hub for financial information regarding activity that causes suspicion of money laundering. SOCA succeeded the National Criminal Intelligence Service following the introduction of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

When Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) are made by a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO), they are made to SOCA. The agency's website provides forms on which to make SARs; whilst these documents are currently described as having 'preferred' status, the Law Society believes that their usage may become compulsory in the future, and therefore encourages their use among Regulated professionals.

SOCA makes anonymised examples of submitted SARs available, which provide valuable guidelines for MLROs and may contribute to any anti-money laundering training that that officer provides to his or her firm.

Among other duties, SOCA also deals with permissions to proceed with acts that would otherwise be prohibited under anti-money laundering law, and gathers any intelligence regarding the proceeds of crime that is derived from these acts. Whilst it is generally stated that there is a seven-day period for SOCA to respond to such requests, it is possible to express urgency. Some decisions have been made in a matter of hours, but it would be unwise for an MLRO to rely on this timescale.

The agency has faced criticism since its inception. Examples of this from 2008 include a description of the agency as an overly cautious system bound up in red tape, and an allegation that it does not prioritise cyber-crime highly enough. However, it has also been defended by bodies such as the Crown Prosecution Service, a spokesperson for which said, also in 2008, "Two years ago we didn't have an organisation that only dealt with organised crime - people in Italy and the United States couldn't believe it when I told them that. There has been a cultural change in the way the UK looks at and tackles organised crime and that takes time."

Money laundering training and the role of SOCA 
For those in a Regulated firm, it is not only necessary to understand the sometimes onerous anti-money laundering duties of that business, but also the roles that other organisations play in those responsibilities, such as SOCA. This may include other businesses that you must deal with, government agencies, and international bodies such as the Financial Action Task Force.

The anti-money laundering training provided by ML Solutions 4U can provide the relevant levels of information for all employeees, from newly-employed graduates to partner level. With delivery methods including seminars, workshops and online tutorials, the accredited packages can be tailored to meet the business' obligation to train all relevant members of staff under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

For full information about our services and seminars, please complete our contact form or telephone an advisor on 0845 402 0001.

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