Stephen Lickrish & Associates are experts in relation to the investigation and prosecution of Fraud and Money Laundering allegations and we benefit from having a collected experience of one of the largest teams of Lawyers practicing in this field of criminal defence nationally.
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is generally thought of as processing or ‘cleaning’ money which was earned through crime in order to hide the fact that it was obtained illegally. However the current definition in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002) is broad and money laundering should not be considered as being a charge which only accompanies other charges, such as possession with intent to supply, and can include those close to persons accused of committing serious crimes, such as spouses.
Money Laundering Offences
POCA sets out three money laundering offences in sections 327, 328 and 329 which can broadly be summarised as follows:
- Concealing, disguising, converting or transferring criminal property or attempting to remove criminal property from the UK;
- Entering in to, or becoming involved in an arrangement in which he knows or suspects helps with the acquisition, retention use or control of criminal property; and
- Acquiring, using or simply having possession of criminal property without providing adequate consideration.
All three of these offences contain the same elements, albeit to differing degrees, namely
- Property which originates from crime;
- An act or action involving this property; and
- Knowledge or suspicion that the property originates from crime.
Money laundering under POCA therefore has a wider definition than the general view. Money laundering is often charged with other offences and can include a wide range of actions including acting as a courier, hawala banking, cigarettes smuggling and supplying drugs. However it can be charged on its own and people’s spouses are in danger of being brought in to cases on the basis that they must have known their partner’s source of income, on which they both lived, came from crime.
What the Prosecuting Authority have to prove
Evidence in money laundering cases usually relies heavily on inferences with the Prosecution not having to prove that property originated from a specific crime, instead just having to provide the jury with enough evidence from which the jury can conclude that it came from criminal activity.
This is a crucial difference which allows the Prosecution to rely on poor business records and HMRC tax records when trying to show that any money seized could not have been legitimately earned. Another tactic of the Prosecution is to forensically test any cash seized to determine if it has higher than average traces of illegal drugs. If any cash seized does then this is nearly always enough to persuade a jury that the cash was the profit of drug dealing.
Having shown that the property was derived from crime the Prosecution need only show that there was an arrangement and that the accused either knew or suspected that the property was criminal property. An ‘arrangement’ can be anything from transferring the property to just being in possession of it and the inclusion of suspicion in this element means that an accused can be guilty of an offence even when they are not sure that they are doing anything wrong.
There can often be a very fine line between suspecting something is wrong in which the accused has a passive role and the accused trying to remain aloof to others actions due to a vague sense of uneasiness, particularly if the others suspected of being involved in criminal activity are close to the accused.
Money laundering cases can therefore be very complex and difficult to defend, often leaving people in the unenviable position of having to rebut inferences and almost having to prove the negative that they did not know or suspect that the property originated from crime.
Our experience suggests that effective representation at an early stage can lead to a better management of the case and relatively positive outcome for our clients. Therefore is vital that if someone is under investigation for fraud they receive expert legal advice from the outset.
Here at Stephen Lickrish & Associates we have a wide experience in all type of money laundering matters and have connections with specialist barristers and experts, from forensic accountants to cultural specialists, to help robustly defend our client’s case.
Stephen Lickrish & Associates can provide you with initial free legal advice, regardless of what stage your case is at.