The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCTA) marks a pivotal moment in the fight against financial crime, bolstering the UK’s commitment to transparency and accountability. Expanding upon the groundwork established by the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 (ECA), the ECCTA introduces substantial reforms and, in certain cases, revises existing provisions.


This wide-ranging legislation tackles various dimensions of economic crime and corporate transparency, solidifying the UK’s stance as a global leader in combating illicit financial activities. While some provisions are already in effect, others await secondary legislation before full implementation. This article outlines the key features of the ECCTA update, paving the way for a more detailed exploration of its individual aspects.


The Simple Guide to ECCTA Compliance (Even Your CFO Will Understand)

On March 1, 2024, the  UK Government’s Crime, Justice, and Law Department published comprehensive factsheets outlining the key reforms introduced by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023.


Reformed Corporate Criminal Liability Laws

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCTA) introduces significant reforms to corporate criminal liability laws for economic crimes, making it possible for corporations to be held accountable independently. This enhancement fortifies the framework for applying corporate liability to modern enterprises, especially those with intricate and expansive structures. It acts as a deterrent against senior managers exploiting their positions within the corporation to engage in economic crimes, ensuring they are accountable for their actions.


Modernizing the Identification Doctrine

The ECCTA advances the identification doctrine by codifying it specifically for economic crimes. This provides explicit guidelines for attributing the actions and intentions of senior managers to the corporation. This modernization addresses the complexities of decision-making within large organizations, where authority is often spread across various senior managers. By bringing clarity to the identification process, the reform ensures that individuals with substantial managerial influence are encompassed within corporate liability, thereby promoting accountability at higher organizational levels.


Clarifying the Role of Senior Managers

Under the ECCTA, the definition of “senior manager” from the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is adopted, emphasizing responsibilities and roles rather than mere job titles. This redefinition ensures that individuals who have significant decision-making power and managerial influence within an organization are accountable for economic crimes. The reform targets those who play pivotal roles in the strategic and operational aspects of the business, ensuring their actions are scrutinized and held to account.


Leveling the Playing Field for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

The ECCTA addresses the previous disparity in prosecuting smaller versus larger companies. Previously, smaller businesses, with easily identifiable decision-makers, were more susceptible to prosecution compared to larger firms with dispersed decision-making processes. This reform seeks to rectify this imbalance by ensuring that senior managers in large corporations, who wield significant decision-making power, can also be held liable. This adjustment aims to create a fairer legal landscape where businesses of all sizes are equally accountable under the law.


How These Reforms May Affect Businesses?

These reforms under the ECCTA signify a major shift in the landscape of corporate liability for economic crimes, directly impacting how businesses operate. Companies will now need to ensure robust internal controls and clear accountability structures, as the law will hold them liable for the economic crimes committed by their senior managers. 

Molly Ross at Audley Chaucer highlights that “the increased disclosure requirements could be burdensome for companies, particularly small businesses.” This sentiment is echoed by others who worry about the potential administrative and financial strain on smaller entities.


Some critics, as mentioned in the Audley Chaucer article, raise concerns about the possibility of government overreach in investigations and the risk of hindering legitimate business operations due to the heightened scrutiny under the ECCTA.


Therefore, businesses must adapt to these updated regulations by revising their governance practices to prevent and detect economic crimes effectively. This shift emphasizes the need for thorough compliance programs and proactive risk management strategies to mitigate the risk of corporate liability and ensure adherence to the new legal standards.


Real Stories of Businesses That Failed to Comply

While the ECCTA is new, it builds upon earlier anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations. Here are a couple of notable cases where businesses faced consequences for failing to comply with similar regulations:


  • Standard Chartered Bank:  In 2019, Standard Chartered Bank was fined $1.1 billion by US and UK regulators for failing to comply with AML regulations. This included weaknesses in their due diligence processes and failure to report suspicious transactions. This case highlights the severe financial penalties that can be imposed for non-compliance.


  • NatWest: In 2021, NatWest pleaded guilty to failing to prevent money laundering after a customer deposited large sums of cash, including £365 million. The bank was fined £264 million, a record penalty at the time. This case emphasizes the potential for criminal liability and reputational damage that can result from non-compliance.


Potential Consequences Under the ECCTA

While these cases involved previous regulations, they illustrate the serious consequences that businesses can face for failing to comply with AML and CTF laws. The ECCTA strengthens these regulations, introducing even more stringent requirements and penalties. Under the ECCTA, businesses that fail to comply could face:


  • Significant financial penalties: Fines can be imposed on both the company and individuals involved.
  • Criminal liability: In some cases, individuals can face criminal charges and even imprisonment.
  • Reputational damage: Non-compliance can tarnish a company’s reputation and lead to a loss of customers and business opportunities.
  • Operational disruptions: Investigations and enforcement actions can disrupt business operations.


Minimize Risk & Maximize Protection with CRI™ Group

CRI™ Group understands the profound impact that the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCTA) will have on businesses. This legislation introduces stringent requirements for corporate governance and accountability, particularly concerning economic crimes. To navigate these complexities, CRI™ Group offers a comprehensive suite of services designed to help your business minimize risk and maximize protection, ensuring full compliance with the new regulations.


Comprehensive Compliance Solutions

CRI™ Group offers tailored compliance solutions designed to meet the unique needs of each organization. Their services include compliance audits, regulatory advice, and the development of robust compliance programs that align with the latest legislative requirements. By implementing these solutions, businesses can ensure they adhere to the ECCTA and other relevant regulations, thereby minimizing the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties​.


Due Diligence and Risk Management

Conducting thorough due diligence is vital for identifying and mitigating risks associated with new business relationships, mergers, and acquisitions. CRI™ Group’s due diligence services expose vulnerabilities and threats that could harm the organization, ensuring that decision-makers have all the necessary information to make informed choices​.


Investigative Services

CRI™ Group’s investigative services are designed to uncover and address various forms of corporate fraud, including accounting fraud, asset misappropriation, and internal corruption. Their team of experts can conduct detailed investigations to ensure that any incidents of fraud or misconduct are identified and dealt with promptly, protecting the business from financial and reputational damage​.


Forensic Accounting

For businesses facing complex financial fraud, CRI™ Group’s forensic accounting services provide the expertise needed to uncover discrepancies and present evidence suitable for legal proceedings. Their forensic accountants are trained to handle cases that require detailed financial investigations, ensuring that all findings meet courtroom standards.


Corporate Security and Resilience

In today’s interconnected global marketplace, corporate security and resilience are paramount. CRI™ Group helps businesses develop and implement controls to protect digital and physical assets, manage supply chain risks, and prepare for potential crises. This proactive approach ensures that companies can respond swiftly and effectively to any threats, maintaining business continuity and protecting stakeholder interests​.


By leveraging CRI™ Group’s extensive experience and comprehensive services, businesses can not only comply with the new requirements of the ECCTA but also strengthen their overall risk management and corporate governance frameworks. This proactive stance minimizes risk and maximizes protection, ensuring long-term stability and success in a complex regulatory environment.


For more information about CRI Group™ and our services, please visit our website at