The new powers, which were passed in parliament on Friday, allow HM Customs & Excise to inspect and regulate bureaux de change, cashing companies and money transmission agents.
Under the new rules, all such operations will have to be registered and approved by Customs before they can begin business activities – previously no such requirements were in place.
In addition, Customs staff will be able to carry out ‘surprise’ inspections at money exchange businesses to examine their accounts and, if necessary, seize evidence where criminal activity is suspected.
Businesses that do not comply could face fines of up to Pounds 5,000
Commenting on the move Customs minister Paul Boateng said: ‘Our aim is clear – to cut off the funds terrorists and criminals rely on to pay for their operations.’
It is estimated that Pounds 2bn of dirty money is laundered through Bureaux de change and other similar operations.
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