HC Deb 11 May 1990 vol 172 cc262-3W
Mr. Butler

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to his answer of 2 May to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Michie),Official Report, column 564, Ministers are considering recycling confiscated money from drug traffickers towards schemes designed to reduce demand run under the auspices of local health authorities.

Mr. John Patten

Ministers are still considering the detailed arrangements for the proposed scheme and how priorities might best be determined between the possible candidates for the use of such monies.

Sir Dudley Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new initiatives are being pursued in an effort to prevent the laundering of illegal drug profits by reputable banks and financial institutions in the United Kingdom.

Mr. John Patten

The Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 created a criminal offence of money laundering, punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment. The Government recently extended the scope of this offence through new provisions contained in the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990. The new Act will enable us to ratify the United Nations convention against illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances later this year. It also introduced a new power to prevent evasion of the controls on money laundering by those attempting to import or export the proceeds of drug trafficking as cash. The Act meets a number of specific proposals in the recent Home Affairs Committee report on Drug Trafficking and Related Serious Crime. In response to a further recommendation by the Committee the Government has set up a working party to consider how the provisions on the confiscation of drug traffickers' assets have worked since their introduction, and to identify any changes to the law that may be necessary.

In addition to this, we are involved in a number of other initiatives, both domestically and internationally, aimed at ensuring that the measures taken to combat money laundering are as effective as possible.

On 19 April my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the publication of the report of the financial action task force on money laundering, a copy of which is in the Library. The United Kingdom were active contributors to the work of the task force; the priority is now on the implementation of its recommendations. In the light of the report a working group has been established, bringing together representatives of banks, building societies and the enforcement agencies, under the chairmanship of the Bank of England, to take forward those recommendations of the task force which relate to banks and building societies.

We are seeking to negotiate further international agreements under the 1986 Act to trace, freeze and confiscate the proceeds of drug trafficking. Thirteen such agreements or arrangements have already been concluded. That with the United States of America came into force in April 1989; an Order in Council currently before Parliament will designate the remaining countries with whom agreements of arrangements have already been made, together with the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Within Europe, the United Kingdom is involved in developing a draft Council of Europe convention on tracing, freezing and confiscating the proceeds of crime. The European Commission has recently published a draft directive on money laundering, and the United Kingdom looks forward to taking an active part in its consideration.

Ms. Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women from Nigeria and Colombia have been convicted for drug smuggling offences in the last five years.

Mr. John Patten

The number of women convicted of unlawful import or export of controlled drugs whose country of birth was recorded as Nigeria and Colombia was as follows:

United Kingdom
Number of women
Country of birth 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
Nigeria 53 12 23 54 42
Colombia 6 3 2 6 4