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The National Crime Agency headquarters in London
Image: The National Crime Agency headquarters in London. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

UK Businesses Cautioned About Crime Increase from Brexit

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Image: The National Crime Agency headquarters in London. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Businesses throughout the United Kingdom have been warned about a potential crime surge from Brexit.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) cautioned that firms trading outside the E.U. may face corrupt markets.

Money Laundering to Soar

As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, businesses are being warned of an increased risk of crime. According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), they are at risk of being pulled into corrupt practices. Law enforcement officials have also been cautioned to remain alert, particularly when dealing with corrupt markets, such as in certain regions in the developing world.

The agency warned that Brexit will open the door to opportunities for money laundering as well as making dirty cash investments into U.K. companies that deal in precious metals, gems and other high-volume items.

Organised Crime

The NCA’s annual assessment also pointed to a potential surge in organised crime. This could lead to significant new problems. Criminals may, said the NCA, could see Brexit as an opportunity. They may use the newly redesigned customs setup to slip into any gaps that are present, particularly at the start before they have been identified and closed. This could include intelligence-sharing among countries, making it possible for international fugitives to slip away from capture.

“As the UK moves towards exiting the EU in March 2019, UK-based businesses may look to increase the amount of trade they have with non-EU countries,” said the report. “We judge this will increase the likelihood that UK businesses will come into contact with corrupt markets, particularly in the developing world, raising the risk they will be drawn into corrupt practices.”

“A Key Driver of Uncertainty”

The NCA describe the EU referendum as being “a key driver of uncertainty” within the next half decade.

“We know the criminals will adapt to what the arrangements are and exploit any loopholes. We think while there is uncertainty … the criminals will be waiting to see what the opportunities and loopholes are, to get their goods across the border during any confusion,” said NCA director of investigations, Nikki Holland.

Beyond the NCA, the assessment was also developed through the assistance of MI5, MI6, the police forces, the Border Force, GCHQ, the Prison Service, and immigration enforcement.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.