The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): The Government are today publishing draft Money Laundering Regulations 2007 for consultation. The Regulations implement the Third EU Money Laundering Directive, which was agreed in October 2005 during the UK's presidency of the European Union. The Regulations have been developed in line with the three key principles of the Government's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance strategyeffectiveness, proportionality and engagement both domestically and with international partners. Implementing these regulations will further strengthen the UK's defences against money laundering and terrorist finance, and ensure a targeted response to specific threats.
Effectiveness means setting and implementing national and international standards that tackle the global threat of money laundering and terrorist financing. Proportionality means taking a risk-based approach to controlsbeing tough on new risks that emerge, whilst reducing burdens where the threat lowers. Engagement within the UK means working closely with business, regulators and law enforcement agencies to ensure the system works. Internationally it requires co-operation with other Governments inside and outside the EU, including through the Financial Action Taskforce, the international standard setter.
All sectors regulated for money laundering will be supervised for compliance: many firms that are subject to the Money Laundering Regulations are already monitored to ensure that they meet the requirements, including firms regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), casinos, lawyers and some accountants. We will now extend this approach so that all sectors under the Regulations are supervised. This will include, for the first time, trust and company service providers, estate agents and consumer credit providers, as well as certain other accountants and financial services providers;
supervision of Money Service Businesses will be strengthened to ensure that persons running these businesses are fit and proper. New sectoral supervision of trust and company service providers will mean that those involved in the running of such firms will also need to pass a strict test to this effect;
there will be a new requirement for regulated firms to conduct enhanced due diligence in respect of customers and situations that pose a higher risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. This universalises the risk-based approach to customer due diligence that many already apply by requiring all firms to take extra checks at the high-end of the risk spectrum; and
the regulations make operational the Government's view that, where possible, casinos should identify their customers when they reach a threshold of €2,000 of chips exchanged or gambled an approach recommended as international best practice by the Financial Action Task Force but with a level stricter than the international requirement. In the view of law enforcement, money laundering in casinos below the sum of €2,000 is not a material risk provided proper checks are in place to ensure that this threshold is not exceeded without appropriate due diligence taking place. Those casinos that are able to demonstrate to the regulator that they have the systems in place for tracking and identifying higher risk individuals and for ensuring that criminals are not able to circumvent the threshold by gradually exchanging or gambling chips should therefore follow a threshold approach. Those unable to do so should continue, as they do now, to identify all of their customers on entry.
firms will be able to apply simplified due diligence in situations that the Regulations classify as low risk. This means that fewer checks will need to be applied for certain products including the Child Trust Fund and pension products where contributions are made solely by an employer;
firms will have greater scope to rely on the customer identification checks conducted by others. In particular, specific provision for regulated firms to rely on the due diligence conducted by FSA regulated firms and certain professionals will be introduced in the Regulations. Going forward the Government hope to widen the scope of this measure to include other sectors, subject to those sectors being able to demonstrate a high level of compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations. This is a de-regulatory measure in line with the recommendation of the Better Regulation Task Force report on regulatory creep. It should improve the experience both of the firm and the customer by removing duplication of identity checks; and
firms will have more flexibility in deciding which records to keep. Previously there was a preference in the law for firms to keep copies of documents as opposed to references such as passport numbers. The new Regulations will place reference numbers on the same footing as copies for the purposes of record keeping, reducing business costs and increasing flexibility.
The draft Money Laundering Regulations have been developed through an extensive process of consultation with all interested parties, including representatives of law enforcement, regulators and the industry itself. In July 2006 the Government published a consultation document setting out proposals for implementing the EU Third Money Laundering Directive. This consultation closed in October 2006 and the responses received have informed the draft Regulations being published today. The Government will continue to work closely with all stakeholders as the Regulations are implemented.
The Government will set out in greater detail how we will apply the principles of effectiveness, proportionality and domestic and international engagement more widely to the continuing challenge of detecting, deterring and disrupting money laundering and terrorist financing in the coming weeks.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): As part of the Government's continuing commitment to investigate Gulf veterans' illness, data on the mortality of veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict are published regularly. The most recent figures for the period 1 April 1991 to 31 December 2006, are published today as a National Statistic on the Defence Analytical Services Agency website.
The data for Gulf veterans are compared to that of a control group known as the "Era cohort" consisting of armed forces personnel of a similar profile in terms of age, gender, service, regular/reservists status and rank, who were in service on 1 January 1991 but were not deployed to the Gulf. As in the previous release, the "Era" group has been adjusted for a small difference in the age-profile of those aged 40 years and over, to ensure appropriate comparisons.
There have been 814 deaths among the Gulf veterans and 827 in the age-adjusted Era comparison group.
The 814 deaths among Gulf veterans compare with approximately 1,331 deaths which would have been expected in a similar sized cohort taken from the general population of the UK with the same age and gender profile. This reflects the strong emphasis on fitness when recruiting and retaining service personnel.
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Alistair Darling):
I have selected Dr. Tim Stone to be my senior adviser to lead the development of
arrangements for the costs associated with potential new build decommissioning and waste management and make proposals to me and to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, based on the principles set out in the Energy Review Report The Energy Challenge.
I am confident that Tim Stone, with his extensive background in investment and corporate banking, will play an important part in designing robust arrangements that ensure that for any new nuclear build that might come forward, the private sector meets the full decommissioning costs and their full share of long-term waste management costs
The Minister for Trade (Mr. Ian McCartney): When the House debated the collapse of Farepak on 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 206WH, I undertook to keep hon. Members fully up to date on the progress of the investigations into the events. Hon. Members will wish to be aware that on 18 January the administrators of Farepak Food and Gifts Ltd, BDO Stoy Hayward, sent out their statement to customers and agents of Farepak. The statement explains what has happened in the administration to date, what the administrators propose to do while they are still appointed and what will happen when the administration ends.
The main purpose of the statement is for agents and customers to have the opportunity to consider and vote on the proposals of the administrators. The administrators recommend that Farepak should be placed in liquidation. Liquidators have wider powers of investigation and action than administrators. Creditors will have until 9 February 2007 to return voting forms to Voting Registration Department, Farepak House, Westmead Drive, Westlea, Swindon SN5 7YZ.