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It will introduce the Office for Professional Body Anti- Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) alongside updated money laundering regulations.

Simon Kirby, economic secretary to the Treasury, said the new division, to operate within the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) by the beginning of next year, will “bring the UK’s anti-money laundering regime into line with the latest international standards”.

However, trade bodies say this could lead to extra work for law-abiding businesses.

LAPADA chief executive Rebecca Davies said: “Although we support the concept of a simplification of the anti-money laundering rules, they must be fit for purpose.

“The art market is already subject to great swathes of regulation and added bureaucracy simply results in poorer regulation, increased costs and reduced competition.”

Forward thinking

Some in the trade believe the art and antiques trade is already ahead of any planned crackdown.

The Antiquities Dealers’ Association recently rewrote its code on this subject. Chairman Joanna van der Lande, said that the “UK art market has been at the forefront in exercising stringent anti-money laundering measures for years now”.

Sean Kelsey, art market legal consultant, said the debate as to whether the art and antiques market has a money laundering problem has been “raging for years”.

Until now, “enforcement agencies haven’t really had the appetite, resource or capacity to try finding out”.

But he warned this could all change and that “complacency has never really been an option, and it’s clearly not about to become one”.