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Labour says power shift will weaken fight against crime

Labour Shadow Treasury financial secretary Chris Leslie says moving the financial regulator’s enforcement powers to the Home Office’s National Crime Agency would lead to a less effective fight against financial crime.

Last week, leaked documents revealed the Home Office is considering moving responsibility for fighting financial crime from the FSA’s successor – the Financial Conduct Authority – to a new National Crime Agency.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Leslie says he is concerned the NCA will not make financial crime a top priority. He says: “This is about stopping highly complex, premeditated schemes from ripping people off. If the responsibility is given to a desk somewhere at the back of the NCA, it will not be a top priority. It could lead to more people getting away with financial crime.”

In May 2010, the coalition agreement stated the Government would set up a new agency to tackle economic crime, taking in the work of the FSA, the Serious Fraud Office and the Office of Fair Trading. But in February, the Treasury decided to transfer the FSA’s criminal enforcement powers to the FCA, which will replace the FSA in 2013. This week, reports emerged the OFT will retain its powers of criminal prosecution.

A Treasury spokeswoman says there is no update on the formation of the ECA, which was set to be consulted on in spring.

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