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Money laundering – a new focus?

5 November 2018

It is important to recognise that organisations and individuals do not have to intend to launder money or even to act dishonestly in order to commit money laundering offences. Legislation such as the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 are part of a framework of legislation which not only imposes significant obligations upon regulated businesses (such as solicitors and accountants) but also creates imprisonable offences that can be committed by any corporate body or individual.

A major focus of the new National Economic Crime Centre, part of the National Crime Agency, will be to crack down on money laundering. In an interview last week with the Guardian, Security Minister Ben Wallace set out plans for the newly launched unit, which opens with a £48M cash injection and ambitious plans. Mr Wallace made it clear that those facilitating the transfer and movement of the proceeds of crime will be as much a target as the criminals and gangs committing the offences that generate those proceeds.

It is no surprise to hear Mr Wallace make mention of estate agents, solicitors and accountants. What is more startling is to hear him also single out public schools, football clubs and luxury car garages as key culprits who often fail to report their suspicions of money laundering.

With the Government committed to cracking down on economic crime and those facilitating the laundering of criminal property it is imperative that organisations have a good understanding of the relevant legislation and the systems they should have in place to reduce the risk of committing an offence.

Browne Jacobson can advise upon corporate policies and procedures in relation to money laundering as well as fraud, bribery and corruption and the prevention of facilitation of tax evasion. Such policies and procedures are essential to protect businesses and their staff from the reputational damage, heavy fines or even prison sentences which money laundering offences attract.

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