The Treasury has proposed an overhaul of money laundering rules and plans to exempt small businesses from the checks.
Businesses with turnover of less than £13,000 excluding VAT would be exempt from the rules, while directors of larger firms which did not have appropriate money laundering checks would no longer face criminal charges, according to the Treasury proposals, which would scrap over two dozen criminal penalties.
Dropping criminal penalties would give businesses the confidence to take a risk-based approach to money laundering regulation, the Treasury said in its consultation paper over the measures. It said it did not plan to change the civil penalties for money laundering breaches and has consulted whether regulators should have the power to impose additional penalties.
The Treasury will also extend money laundering rules to cover estate agents who deal in overseas property, and firms which rent safety deposit boxes.
‘It is essential that the UK’s money laundering regulations make the UK a hostile environment for money laundering and terrorist finance. But improvements can be made and we must consider the impact of these regulations on British business,’ said James Sassoon, commercial secretary to the Treasury.
‘We believe that we can make the regulations more effective and proportionate by removing a range of criminal penalties on all businesses and by lifting the burdens on the smallest businesses. This will modestly reduce the burden on business, without damaging the fight against money laundering,’ said Sassoon.