UK PM Johnson pledges to strengthen powers to fight economic crime

·1-min read
State Opening of Parliament in London

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will introduce a new economic crime bill to crack down on illicit finance, looking to strengthen laws that have empowered its Russian sanction regime and empower authorities to seize cryptocurrency assets.

The government said that the bill would be aimed at driving kelptocrats and dirty money out of Britain, ensuring that people such as associates of Russian President Vladmir Putin do not benefit from Britain's economy.

"A bill will be brought forward to further strengthen powers to tackle illicit finance, reduce economic crime and help businesses grow," Prince Charles said in a speech on Tuesday setting out the legislative agenda of Johnson's government.

Britain in March passed an Economic Crime Act, and subsequently sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and entities, catching up with similar measures imposed by the European Union and United States.

The government said that the new bill would build on that act by introducing identity verification for people who control companies in the United Kingdom, improving the reliability of data held by the Registrar of Companies and giving Companies House more effective investigation and enforcement.

It also said the bill would empower authorities to more quickly and easily seize and recover crypto assets.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)

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