The UK is getting a new regulator for a £24 billion problem

LONDON — The government will set up a new regulator to shut down legal loopholes used by criminals and terrorists to launder money in the UK.

Called the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS), the watchdog will launch next year.

It will enforce updated money laundering rules and coordinate with other bodies and supervisors to tighten up defences.

Industries at risk of being targeted by money launderers, such as the law or accountancy, have 25 different professional bodies.

“Having several organisations supervising the same sectors and issuing guidance can lead to inconsistencies which criminals may look to exploit,” the Treasury said in an emailed statement. “Research shows that serious and organised crime costs the UK at least £24 billion every year.”

Simon Kirby, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said the move sends “a strong message that money laundering and terrorist financing should not and will not be tolerated.”

OPBAS will sit within the Financial Conduct Authority, which levied its biggest ever fine for breaches of anti-money laundering rules ever in January.

Deutsche Bank had to pay £163 million to the FCA earlier this year for allowing “unidentified customers to transfer approximately $US10 billion, of unknown origin, from Russia to offshore bank accounts in a manner that is highly suggestive of financial crime.”

Business Minister Lord Prior said: “We are committed to making the system work better for the majority of law-abiding British businesses.”

“The evidence submitted from a wide range of businesses, trade bodies, NGOs and other organisations has been invaluable in developing our approach to removing unnecessary burdens while stepping up the fight against money laundering,” he said.

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