Cabinet Office officials are just days away from delivering the findings of their economic crime review to ministers, it has emerged.
Home secretary Amber Rudd announced in December last year that officials were beginning a probe into the effectiveness of the nation’s organisational framework for tackling fraud and money-laundering, and that it would look at the “capabilities, resources and powers available” to the organisations involved.
Little has been heard of the review since, but in response to demands for more information from past Treasury Select Committee chair Andrew Tyrie and successor Nicky Morgan, prime minister Theresa May has given an update.
In a letter to Morgan, published today, the prime minister says that the project has looked at the largest UK agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of high-value or complex economic crime, against the backdrop of the most recent Strategic Defence and Security Review and the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
“I expect officials to deliver internal advice to ministers by the end of the summer,” May wrote in the letter.
“Any decisions made by ministers subsequently, based on that advice, will be subject to public scrutiny in the usual way.
“In the course of this work, officials have consulted non-governmental organisations, academics, members of the financial services industry, and the agencies themselves.”
The prime minister listed the National Crime Agency; City of London Police; the Serious Fraud Office; the Financial Conduct Authority; the Competition and Markets Authority; the parts of HM Revenue and Customs targeting money-laundering; and the Crown Prosecution Service as key elements of the review.
Morgan said her committee would want to look closely at any action ministers decided to take in the wake of the review, and would expect to see robust evidence that any organisational change proposed would improve the nation’s response to economic crime.
She also cautioned that although the review was originally described as having a broad scope, it may have been lacking in terms of its depth.
“While the review’s focus is on high-value and complex economic crime, the government must not overlook the growing problem of smaller-scale fraud committed against ordinary people and small businesses,” she said.
Morgan’s predecessor had written to the prime minister in April seeking additional details of the review, and particularly its terms of reference, timescale, the organisations involved, and the extent to which its conclusions would be made public.
However the letter – sent the week before May called her disastrous snap general election – went unanswered, prompting Morgan to refresh the query in July. The prime minister’s response came in a letter dated August 22.