The offence of money laundering is where the proceeds of crime are converted into legitimate assets that appear to come from a legitimate source. This is generally a technique used by organised or white-collar criminals who make a high turnover and need to deflect suspicion from how they are making so much money.
There are 3 main offences created by the proceeds of crime act. These include:
The concealing offence
The offence includes any attempts to conceal, transfer, disguise, convert or remove criminal property from the UK. A conviction under this offence can result in a prison sentence, fine, or both.
Criminal property is defined as property that is acquired as the benefit, or represents the benefit of criminal proceeds. The offender must also know, or ought to have known, the property was proceeds of a crime. The property can be anything considered property including money, real or personal property, and tangible or intangible property just to name a few.
The arranging offence
The arranging offence involves a person who becomes involved in any way with an arrangement he knows or should reasonably be aware relates to the retention, control or use of criminal property as defined above.
This offence carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, a fine, or both.
The acquisition, use and possession offence
This offence is committed when a person acquires criminal property, then uses or retains possession of the property. The person committing the offence must know or ought to have known that the property is proceeds of a crime.
As with the above this offence carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, a fine, or both.
As with any criminal offence there are defences you can raise for the proceeds of crime. There are 3 principle defences to an offence under the proceeds of crime act. These include:
- An authorised disclosure is made
- The offender intended to make such a disclosure but has a reasonable explanation why he did not
- The act is done in relation to the enforcement of proceedings under this Act.