Here we offer a brief summary of the law on money laundering in England and Wales. We explain what kind of conduct constitutes a money laundering offence, how individuals and organisations could be affected by the law and the complex nature of money laundering proceedings.
If you are involved in a money laundering matter and require reputable, reliable and effective advice, contact our criminal defence lawyers today.
Simply put, money laundering involves concealing the true source of illegally obtained money. The intention behind this crime is to make it appear as though the ‘dirty’ money has come from a legitimate source. An example would be using money gained from supplying illegal drugs to buy and subsequently sell a car. The illegal source of the money (supplying drugs) is hidden by the legitimate source (selling the car).
Sections 327 to 329 of POCA establish the range of money laundering offences, which can be grouped under three main headings: concealing, arranging and acquiring.
The POCA offences not only capture a person who is laundering their own proceeds, but extends to other people involved, as long as they knew or suspected that the property in question was criminal property (i.e. property which represents a person’s benefit from criminal conduct). For example, the spouse or business partner of a defendant may also find themselves subject to investigations where there is suspicion that he or she knew the funds where from an illicit source.
The penalties for committing any of the above offences are high, with the possibility of up to 14 years imprisonment, a fine, and potentially both.
The Money Laundering Regulations came into force in 2007 in order to protect certain business sectors considered to be at a high risk of becoming caught up in money laundering activities.
Particularly vulnerable businesses include financial institutions, credit organisations, accountancy firms and estate agents. The onus is on the regulated organisations to detect and deter money laundering, and their duties are fortified by the real risk of civil penalties and criminal prosecution for failure to comply.
The Regulations require businesses to put various controls in place to protect their business from money laundering. Such measures include carrying out money laundering risk assessments, checking the identities of customers and training employees.
The other fundamental obligation established by the 2007 Regulations is the duty to report any activity that is suspected to be linked to money laundering. Suspicious activity must be included in a Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) and must be disclosed without delay by the business’s ‘nominated officer’ to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Investigations into suspected money laundering activity and subsequent court proceedings tend to be complex and lengthy, and require the disclosure and detailed analysis of large amounts of financial and various other forms of evidence. When facing money laundering charges, the value of expert advice and assistance cannot be understated. Harris Solicitors work with highly qualified experts who assist our lawyers in carefully examining large amounts of complicated evidence. Our solicitors tackle each and every case with a thorough and tenacious approach to ensure that our clients’ best interests are protected.
Adding to the complexity of these proceedings, it is not uncommon for the court to invoke one or more of its extensive powers for recovering the proceeds of crime during money laundering cases. Restraint orders, which prohibit a person or company from dealing with their assets, may be served where there are reasonable grounds to suspect some benefit has been gained from criminal conduct. Where there is a conviction, the court may make a confiscation order which requires the subject to pay a sum equal to their criminal benefit. Our experience extends to all POCA matters, which puts us in an excellent position to represent clients throughout money laundering cases, no matter how time-consuming and complicated they may be.
Whether you are a business or an individual, facing money laundering investigations can be terribly worrying. Due to the draconian enforcement powers given to the authorities, proceedings can cause turmoil in both personal and professional lives. We understand what is at stake in such cases and guarantee to do our best to reduce the stress and secure the best outcome for our clients.
With a strong background in serious fraud and complex crime, our team has the skills and know-how to analyse the facts thoroughly and prepare a robust defence in money laundering cases. While this is an intricate area of the law, we endeavour to explain the best course of action in a clear and comprehensible way and keep you informed throughout the case.
We have secured many acquittals for our clients facing serious allegations,and regularly achievesuccess in varying and discharging POCA restraint orders and challenging confiscation orders that have arisen in the course of money laundering proceedings.
Our money laundering defence lawyers are on hand throughout the day and week to provide free initial advice and assistance. Call us on 01274 392 177. We also have two emergency numbers that you should call if you need to speak to us outside of normal working hours (07872835267 or 07590289197).
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