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EMR attacked for cheque cashing

One of the world’s biggest scrap metal firms has come under attack from within the industry for “making a mockery” of the cash ban.

Several small, independent traders have contacted MRW with concerns about European Metal Recycling’s (EMR) cheque cashing facilities.

But the Warrington-based firm defended itself against “misdirected angst” and said its system was compliant with “the letter and the spirit of the legislation”.

EMR, which has over 70 sites across the UK, introduced a range of payment methods with the cash ban on 3 December including an on-site cheque cashing service which charges customers a fee.

Amy Bird, director of One Stop Recycling and organiser of the recent legal challenge to the cash ban, said there was an uneven playing field because of ambiguous Government guidance. She asked if the authorities would be willing to clarify in writing the legal position of cheque cashing services under the ban.

“EMR have huge resources for research and development which has enabled them to put this system in place. In the interests of looking after the hand that feeds them it would have been nice if the research had been shared to those without the resources.”

One scrap dealer said there was widespread concern in the industry that EMR’s system would create an “uneven commercial landscape”. He said the scrap giant was “making a mockery of everyone doing it by the book”.

“It goes against the spirit of the law”, he added.

Another merchant claimed EMR was taking advantage the scrap ban and would push smaller traders who could not afford the cheque cashing system out of the market.

But a spokeswoman at EMR said the system was “convenient, cost effective and above all legally compliant”.

“Where we are providing an on-site service the key factor is that we are not acting in our own capacity but as an agent of the cheque cashing company”.

“All relevant members of staff have been trained and third party assessed as competent.”

“Home Office guidance on the cash ban legislation clearly states: ‘The over-riding requirement is for transactions to have traceability and to provide an effective audit trail.’ All our methods of payment meet this test, as we have adopted appropriate standards of identity checking and have built robust systems which clearly demonstrate our compliance.”

The spokeswoman said EMR had taken police advice and registered its sites with HMRC under the Money Service Business Regulations.

She added: “Perhaps given the nature and scale of the change facing our industry and the speed at which it has had to be accommodated there is an understandable lack of comprehension and fair degree of angst amongst many in the trade – but it is misdirected. The methods of payment we have adopted and the systems and controls we have developed are fully compliant with both the letter and the spirit of the legislation.”

See EMR’s response in full.

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