CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING OFFENCE?
Although the very idea of money laundering as a criminal offence does not have its base as deep in legal history as other crimes, it has nevertheless come to assume a recognisable place of importance in the international community nevertheless. That said however, the concept of preventing those suspected of amassing wealth through illegal activities from reintroducing such wealth into the economy in order to legitimise their illicit gain is not new around the world. In more recent times however, specific definitions and laws with more stringent measures have been introduced in the war against money laundering in England & Wales as well as other parts of the world such as the European Union and the United States of America. This has been due in part to the wave against terrorism and the alleged funding of terrorist activities through the proceeds of crime. The major legislation on money laundering regulation in the United Kingdom is the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002) POCA.
Money laundering is serious fraud charge
As London criminal defence solicitors who have been in the business of effectively defending clients against every conceivable money laundering charge, our lawyers have in depth knowledge of the criminal legislation known as POCA. This extensive knowledge provides us with additional advantage with which we are better placed to defend our clients. In addition to POCA, the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terrorism Crime & Security Act 2001, and the Serious Crime and Police Act 2005 also form part of the primary legislations against money laundering. Ironically, Money laundering Regulations 2003 as well as 2007 are both regarded as secondary legislation.
With the coming into force of these various legislations; primary or otherwise, private individuals and more so commercial entities are being compelled by law to ensure that they have policies in place to guard against non-compliance. Given the meaning of money laundering, which will be discussed below, it is rather unfortunate that anyone may very easily fall prey where adequate care is not taken. Adequate care in this context is relative; whereas a commercial entity will be expected to develop and maintain an effective due diligence mechanisms through which the possibility of being used as a conduit for laundering ‘dirty’ money can be drastically reduced, if not altogether eradicated; such expectation may not be required from a private individual.
Private individuals on the other hand are expected to be able to recognise what may potentially constitute money laundering. The common expression is ‘dodgy’. Dodgy deals where money is handed over which may be excessive in comparison to services rendered, ‘gifts’ from questionable sources and a wide variety of activities can potentially be caught in the money laundering drag net. Even the acceptance of money between a husband and a wife where the source is thought to have been suspicious could potentially land both parties in jail for money laundering. Accepting a large sum of money to start a business, purchasing property and the list is endless. The determining factor at the end of the day is whether or not the funds utilised for the purchase of car, to start a business, for the purchase of the car or for any other purpose can be proven to be criminal property.
A money laundering solicitor as deeply knowledgeable as our money laundering defence lawyers will vehemently oppose any attempt by the prosecution to charge a client with aiding and abetting money laundering when it cannot be reasonably expected for such a client to have been aware of the illicit nature of the money in question.
The stringent measures under the current legislations cover every conceivable involvement in any money laundering activity. Under UK law, it is a money laundering offence for a person to enter into, facilitate, assist or become concerned in any capacity in an arrangement which attempts to reintroduce illicit gains into the system as legitimate money. The requisition, retention, use or control of criminal property; either in asset form or monetary by another person may potentially attract a money laundering charge. It is not uncommon for the authorities to introduce some very harsh measures including asset forfeiture once money laundering investigations are suspected. With our extremely useful wealth of knowledge on how the various investigating authorities operate, making this rather trying period as comfortable as possible and putting our clients’ interests above all else remains our paramount goal. At London’s most prominent criminal defence law network, our anti money laundering solicitors are used to dealing with different bodies at the same time in relation to our clients’ cases. This has proven very useful in money laundering matters as there are usually more than 2 or more authorities involved.
POCA empowers different authorities apart from the Police to investigate suspicions and/or allegations of money laundering. As such, bodies such as the HMRC, the Inland Revenue, Regional Asset Recovery Teams and Customs are now also actively involved in the consideration of money laundering offences. The reasoning behind this being that money laundering is not an offence which occurs in a vacuum; it is usually a crime which can only be committed following the occurrence of other crimes such as drug trafficking, fraud, tax evasion or even benefit fraud on a considerable scale. Involving the different investigating bodies listed above therefore expands the net to other criminal offences with which money laundering is associable.
With the level of importance that has been accorded the criminal offence of money laundering, our solicitors have been deeply involved in the defence of numerous clients against different kinds of money laundering charges. Such representations have been both within the United Kingdom and as far afield as the United States of America. On account of the international community’s war on terrorism and the belief; founded or otherwise, that the proceeds of crime are instrumental in training terrorists in different parts of the world, there is a new found or heightened unity between certain countries to combine efforts in also fighting against money laundering. Of utmost importance to the UK’s fight against money laundering is the United States owing in part to the fact that there are significant cross border transactions between the two countries and the citizens. This united front and the connection between money laundering and terrorism means that we are going to be experiencing a surge in money laundering being brought by any or a combination of the bodies vested with power by POCA.
Facing Money Laundering Charges? The Immediate Step to Take!
There is no other way to put to this. The very next step you take when you become aware that you are a suspect is very likely to determine the outcome of your whole case. As we like to say to our clients, a case is not determined at trial, it is a gradual process from the moment a suspect becomes the subject of surveillance, the association or connection made by the Police or other investigating bodies between you and the people you are seen ‘hanging out’ with, the collation of evidence, such as it may be, interview, what may be an interminable wait in between while open investigation is launched into every possible aspect of a suspect’s life, charges brought and finally the trial.
Money laundering investigation, like other serious criminal offences, more often than not takes a long time. During which period the suspect’s life is more or less left in akimbo. If we are instructed at the right time, we will fight tooth and nail to keep our client’s life as normal as possible while any necessary investigation is ongoing. We believe very strongly that none of our clients should be made to suffer unduly as a result of any investigation. While we have no intention of deterring the appropriate authorities from conducting any research or analysis into the relevant areas of our clients’ transactions, we will nevertheless put up a very strong case against sentencing our clients to a life of misery far before any charges are brought and/or prosecution.
We have experienced in the past cases where investigations went on for years; debilitating clients’ personal lives, their businesses and all but ruining their good standing in society, only for the clients to be found innocent. At the end of the day, it was very little comfort at a very high price. Our London defence lawyers are resolved therefore to do whatever we can to make our clients lead as normal a life as possible while they are being investigated for money laundering.
Money Laundering Definition
In order to understand what all ‘the fuss is about’ when it comes to money laundering offences, it is pertinent that the offence and other criminal offences commonly associated with it, is defined as accurately as possible. In its simplest form and as the title metaphorically suggests, money laundering is the process through which money obtained from criminal activities is ‘washed’ through other legitimate means and re-introduced into society. The most commonly cited analogy is the case of fraud or drug supply. Where the wealth derived from supplying controlled drugs is utilised for the purpose of purchasing a property or starting business a business, such property or business will be said to have been funded with proceeds of crime; the purchase of the property or business itself being the offence of money laundering.
It is understandable therefore why so many agencies and investigating authorities may be involved in money laundering cases. Their involvement is necessitated by the different investigations into the criminal offences which made the accumulation of the wealth possible in the first instance, the act of money laundering and more often than not, the need to examine which of the suspect’s assets were financed by ‘criminal property’ and as such ought to be seized. Criminal property is defined under POCA Sec (340)(3) as property which represents a benefit from criminal conduct, either directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, provided the launderer knows or suspects that the property represents such a benefit. Money laundering is simply the ‘cleaning’ or disguising the origins of the proceeds of crime. Sections 327-329 of POCA differentiates between the principal offender or money launderer, the person who became involved or assisted in money laundering and the end user, so to speak, who buys criminal property off the first or second offender.
A wide range of offences and scenarios are covered by these provisions. This evidences that money laundering schemes are not always as simple of selling drugs and using the money to set up a legitimate or ‘front’ business, we have also seen some rather complex and sophisticated operations where several companies, family members and offshore accounts were involved.
Leading Money Laundering Solicitors
It does not matter therefore if the allegations any of our clients are facing are simple, straightforward money laundering charges or the more complex cases involving multi-agency investigations. Our Solicitors have several years of experience in both simple and complicated money laundering cases. One is just as important to us as the other and the same level of importance is accorded; although a more complex case may naturally demand more time and resources. Our clients matter to us regardless of the complexity of their cases and we strive to provide the highest quality of service tailored to everyone’s need. The personal touch in our disbursement of our duties, the extra mile we will go to in ensuring that our clients’ rights and interests are protected are some of the ethos which stand us out amongst our equals in the field of criminal defence.
Money Laundering Sentencing
Money laundering offence is punishable by a maximum of 14 years imprisonment. Other money laundering sentences apart from/or in addition to prison sentence include financial penalty and asset seizure under subsequent POCA proceeding. The money laundering prison sentence is to serve as a deterrent to offenders. However, sentencing can be flexible depending on the aggravating factors taken into consideration by the judge or the mitigating factors presented by our money laundering lawyers. Speak to one of our money laundering specialists today and leave the rest with them.