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Top City Official Slams UK For Slow Response To Requests For Assistance

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

13 August 2002


Speaking to the Financial Times during an official visit to South Africa, Lord Mayor of London, Michael Oliver, has expressed concern at the fact that the United Kingdom is one of the slowest countries to respond to requests for information and legal assistance with regard to money laundering investigations.

Mr Oliver, the City of London's most senior official, revealed that following consultation with bankers, police officers, and financial regulators in Johannesburg, it had emerged that requests for UK assistance were taking 'many months and, in at least one case, two years'.

'If every country is to play its full part in combating financial crime and this scourge is to be removed from the world financial services industry, all countries have to be geared to respond rapidly to every request,' he told the FT, adding that he intends to write to Home Secretary, David Blunkett 'to seek his assurance that the government will do all it can to remove any delays in the system'.

The Home Office responded to Mr Oliver's concerns last week, explaining that it is 'strongly committed' to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing, and citing the Proceeds of Crime Act, recently given Royal Assent, as evidence for this.


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