The Economic Crime Act – Too Little, Too Late?
Global money laundering is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) criminal problems facing the world today. In the UK, the Economic Crime Act 2022 was pushed through on March 15 as a result of events unfolding in the Ukraine. Previous Russian agression, when it annexed the Crimea in 2014, had first raised questions about the UK being a safe haven for plundered Russian assets. The questions are, has enough been done to discourage the oligarchs and conversely are there cases where businesses have been unfairly targetted?
The Criminal Finances Act 2017 introduced the idea of Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) whereby suspected international criminals would be forced to explain the source of their wealth. Since then UWO’s have only been used 9 times by only one prosecuting body, the National Crime Agency, in an attempt to recover £143.2 million.
Independent Forensic Accountants Focus On Money Laundering
Mark Jenner & Co Limited recently assisted an Azerbaijani businessman to reach a settlement to pay less than half of the £13 million seizure being sought by the National Crime Agency (NCA), so the overall figure actually recovered so far using UWOs is probably much less than the £143.2 million headline figure.
We also assisted The Metropolitan Police Force to examine a case against an African businessman who had built up a £100 million property portfolio in London. It was clear that all sources of funding had been legitimate and no UWO was ultimately sought by the Met.
Each year, we examine several diverse cases of money laundering that have some connection to the alternative money transfer system known as Hawala. Sometimes a legitimate Hawala system is used by the crooks to launder money, sometimes the name Hawala is simply cited as an excuse for blatant money laundering.
The Value Of Our Participation Is Our Independent Position
Despite the title of this article we are not experts in the dark art of money laundering. We are not experts who are able to advise you how to launder your money! However, we are able to examine your finances and explain the source of your wealth if you face asset seizure. Our independent expertise allows us to analyse the source of funding and if appropriate we can then present a credible picture in your defence.
We Support A Strong Defence Against Money Laundering
The problem with money laundering, more than is the case with other areas of crime, is that there are so many grey areas. This is because the very nature of cleaning money that has been obtained illegally means that you have to interact with legitimate systems at some stage. Criminal funds are introduced into the financial system with the appearance of being legitimate so that they can be spent without fear of discovery. Very often the proceeds of crime are swapped with legitimate funds, the criminals exploiting unwitting parties in order to do this. In this way, normal unsuspecting individuals and businesses can be caught up in organised money laundering activity and face the scrutiny of the authorities.
At Mark Jenner & Co Limited we assist the authorities, businesses and wealthy individuals to:
Understand the source of income and assets held by examining financial transactions, often over a number of years.
Advise on suitable accounting controls that can reduce the risk of being exploited by organised money laundering gangs.
Provide an independent assessment of Proceeds of Crime and asset seizure applications. This can benefit the Defendant in cases where statutory assumptions need rebutting or the Particular Criminal Benefit assessed during the predicate trial needs further moderating. Our non-partisan work can also assist the regulators in the presentation of a robust S16 Statement of Information, quantifying benefit and tracing and identifying hidden assets and tainted gifts.