Lord Mayor calls for ‘tough and focused approach to tackling economic crime’ as new Prime Minister prepares to take office

Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny, will today (5 September) deliver a speech at the annual Cambridge Economic Crime Symposium, where he will call for urgent action to keep people and businesses safe from fraud and economic crime.

Speaking to an audience made up of senior politicians, the judiciary, police and representatives from across the financial and professional services industry, he will urge a joined-up approach across government, industry and the police to prevent criminals from slipping through the net.

Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny will say:

“Economic crime is the great criminal shapeshifter of our time involving a group of individuals who exploit technological developments, as well as the vulnerable, to gain vast wealth to fund all manner of illicit and illegal activities.

“According to the Treasury Select Committee, economic crime runs into the tens of billions of pounds, and probably the hundreds of billions. To give that figure some perspective, the entire Government’s spending on public services is about eighty-six-billion pounds.

“Thankfully, the UK has some of the very best forces that have been tackling this upsurge in crime including the recently announced Public Sector Fraud Authority, which will modernise our response to fraud and the financial sector, which has been implementing the financial sanctions on Russia, but also building and policing Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer regulations.

“The truth is that our approach must be as adaptable and smart as those that commit the crimes. When tackling such an ever-changing series of crimes, the whole system – from the police officers, the banks, the regulators, everyone, must be thorough and guided by their resolute integrity. If there is one crack anywhere in this system, then the whole structure can come crashing down. We need a ‘joined up approach’.

“Take the Wirecard fraud scheme. This German online payment system was considered a unicorn, a small privately owned company worth over one billion dollars. It was so successful that it was listed in the German stock market as one of its top 30 companies but all the profit that it claimed to have made was false. They would simply move the same sum of money to different offshore accounts when they knew the auditors would be looking at their profits in that specific market.

“But how did Germany, one of, if not the, most powerful nations in the European Union not notice it sooner?  Because, basically speaking, the regulators, the banking sector, the stock exchange all thought otherwise – they thought the rumours of fraudulent Wirecard transactions were smears against their strong economy.

“But this complacency, this momentary lack of integrity, means that one bad penny ruins the whole pound, the whole financial system comes into question.

“As a solicitor by trade, and a partner in the law firm DLA Piper, I know how crucial it is we invest in our entire legal system to help businesses and people stay safe and, of course, to ensure that those who commit economic crime are brought to justice. Because as much as I internationally represent the UK’s financial and professional services sector, that sector would be absolutely nowhere without a strong rule of law as well as a tough and focused approach to tackling economic crime.

“That’s why I am so pleased that the City of London Corporation has been so dedicated to the new court complex one being constructed on the border of the City and the judicial heartland of the capital. The City of London Law Courts will not only create a new ‘legal link’ between the Square Mile and Fleet Street but it will also create four-hundred new jobs, as well as a new site for commercial development. It is this type of collaboration between business, regulator and civic institution that is required to tackle such a complex and significant issue as economic crime.”

Notes to editors

About the City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk