Wales emerges as ‘most resilient’ to money laundering attempts

Martin Cheek, Managing Director of SmartSearch says Wales is the UK’s least vulnerable target area for Russian dirty money.

They might have suffered a catastrophic defeat against Iran on Friday in the Qatar World Cup but Welsh estate agents can be proud that it is the part of the UK most likely to stop Russians laundering dirty money since the start of the war in Ukraine.

In what will be an unlikely blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, new data commissioned by SmartSearch has identified the country as the UK’s least vulnerable area for bags of dirty cash.

One trophy Wales can take is that it is the part of the UK most likely to stop Russians laundering dirty money.”

Despite losing to Iran 2-0 on Friday in the World Cup, one trophy Wales can take is that it is the part of the UK most likely to stop Russians laundering dirty money.

Since the Ukraine war began some 7,200 individuals and 1,250 entities have been added to the thousands of sanctions already affecting Russia.

But three out of four (72%) regulated firms in Wales have increased checks on clients since that time.

COUNTERPARTS

Unfortunately, their counterparts across the Irish Sea in Northern Ireland bag the number one slot for money laundering.

The data identified Northern Ireland as the UK’s most vulnerable area for dirty money – some three out of four (71%) who responded had not changed their approach to onboarding new customers since sanctions were imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

And eight out of 10 (85%) had not changed their approach to monitoring existing clients since the start of the war.

VULNERABLE

Other regions most vulnerable to money-laundering included the South West and the West Midlands, where more than half (58%) of the regulated firms who responded had not increased their checks.

Firms in London and Yorkshire were almost as vigilant, with one in six (63%) upping their checks on new customers since the start of the war.

SmartSearch managing director Martin Cheek says: “Electronic verification is the only robust way to monitor new and existing clients – it can even retro-screen them.

“It is the most effective way for firms to show they have sought to avoid sanction breaches and the fines and reputational damage which come with them.”

After Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February this year, FIFA suspended Russia and its teams from all competitions, ejecting the country from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.


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