Press release

HMRC issues £3.2 million in money laundering penalties

HMRC has published details on hundreds of businesses who have been fined for breaching anti-money laundering rules.

Hundreds of businesses fined a total of £3.2 million for breaching anti-money laundering rules have been named by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The 240 supervised businesses named today were fined between 1 July and 31 December 2022 by HMRC for breaching Money Laundering Regulations aimed at preventing criminals from exploiting illicit cash.

Certain types of business are required to register with HMRC which is a supervisory body for Money Laundering Regulations.

Xpress Money Services Ltd, based in London, was hit with a large fine of £1.4 million for failing to carry out risk assessments, not having appropriate anti-money laundering controls, and failing to conduct proper due diligence checks.

HMRC’s work with other enforcement agencies and government departments to tackle economic crime and crack down on breaches is working to drive non-compliant firms out of business. This means that the number of money service businesses has fallen by around a third from 1,508 in 2020 to 1,049 in 2023, and the number of money service business agents has reduced from 35,507 to 30,217 in the same period.

Nick Sharp, HMRC’s Deputy Director of Economic Crime, Fraud Investigation Service, said:

Money laundering is not a victimless crime. We are here to help businesses protect themselves from criminal attacks and will continue to tackle the minority of businesses which do not comply with the Money Laundering Regulations.

Serious and organised crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and our anti-money laundering supervision is a vital tool in combatting that.

In addition to the named businesses, another 179 companies received smaller fines totalling more than £200,000 for rule breaches.

Money service businesses provide vital services to the community, offering currency exchange, money transmission and cheque cashing. However, they can be exploited by criminals to launder the proceeds of crime, so must have a robust risk assessment and policies, controls, and procedures to prevent this.

HMRC supervises tens of thousands of businesses across the UK under Money Laundering Regulations, and helps these firms protect themselves from criminals who seek to launder cash or finance terrorism.

Guidance for money service businesses on anti-money laundering rules is available on GOV.UK.

Further information

A full list of the named companies who have received fines or suspensions under these regulations is available on GOV.UK:

Number of named businesses by UK nation and English region

Devolved nation or English region Number of named businesses fined for breaches between 1 July 2022 to 31 December 2022
Northern Ireland 12
Wales 6
Scotland 3
England includes: 219:
Greater London 86
South East 28
North West 26
East of England 23
West Midlands 17
North East 15
East Midlands 13
South West 11

Businesses which do not follow anti-money laundering regulations can be fined and lose their licence to operate in the UK.

Details of who needs to register under anti-money laundering regulations are at:

HMRC is one of 25 Anti-Money Laundering supervisors in the UK. HMRC delivers its supervisory responsibility through its Economic Crime Supervision teams.

Since March 2020, the number of principal money service businesses has reduced from 1,508 to 1,049 (-30%). The number of money service business agents operating in the UK has also reduced from 35,507 to 30,217 (-15%) in the same time period.

The Economic crime plan 2023 to 2026, published in March this year, builds on the existing work by the Government to reduce money laundering in this sector.

HMRC has a range of enforcement powers that it can use for businesses which do not comply with the Money Laundering Regulations, including civil penalties, criminal proceedings and removal from the register. Any of these sanctions can be used in combination. HMRC can:

  • issue a financial penalty
  • issue a censuring statement
  • impose a prohibition on management of a relevant business upon a person
  • suspend a registration
  • cancel a registration
  • decide a relevant person in a business is no longer fit and proper, which will lead to either a prohibition on management, or suspension or cancellation of the business’ registration
  • obtain a court injunction
  • refer a case for criminal investigation and potential prosecution
Published 8 June 2023