Money Laundering

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Money Laundering

Money Laundering is a serious matter for both individuals and organisations. The law with regard to money laundering emanates from the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), a statute widely acknowledged as draconian and severe in its operation.

An allegation of money laundering can result in:

  • A criminal investigation and prosecution or
  • Civil action by the law enforcement agencies such as civil recovery proceedings or
  • Regulatory action, such as the revocation of authorisations for example by HMRC.

In law, money laundering can describe a range of circumstances where individuals or organisations deal in assets that are alleged to be ‘criminal property’. Criminal property is cash and other items that have emanated from criminal conduct. Typically, the focus of money laundering proceedings is property said to have derived from the supply of drugs or the proceeds of fraudulent activity.

Whilst money laundering describes all interaction with criminal property, proceedings primarily deal with seeking to punish those who help to “clean” criminal property, thereby disguising where it really came from and making it appear legitimate. You or your business may become caught in a money laundering investigation because it is alleged the asset dealt with was criminal property and this was known or suspected.

Of course, the investigators may be wrong. The money may not have derived from criminality. You may not have handled it at all. Or if you did you may have had no reason to suspect its origins were unlawful. You may have a total defence to the proceedings. Whatever your defence to an allegation of money laundering, we have the know how to forcefully and successfully present your case.

Frequently a money laundering investigation does not focus on the origin of the assets. In fact, the authorities may not even suggest where the cash or property came from. Rather, the investigation might occur simply because you have become involved in handling a large amount of cash.

An investigation might focus on the value of the cash and the way you dealt with the money. Simply dealing in high value property or a large amount of cash may put in the sights of the law enforcement agencies. Factors that may influence this include:

  • Is your business cash intensive?
  • Have you conducted checks on where the money you handled came from?
  • If you are a business, how robust are your due diligence procedures?
  • Have you suddenly banked a lot of cash across many days into your bank account?
  • Do you have a lifestyle that is not consistent with your declared earnings? For example, ownership of high value jewellery, high powered vehicles and property in circumstances where your declared earnings for tax are comparatively low.

Here at Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors, we understand that there are many reasons why people conduct their finances in the manner they do. This may not be in line with the expectations of law enforcement agencies but may still be entirely innocent. These reasons might be cultural, or a matter of personal preference. Such choices may be misinterpreted as criminal activity.

It is, therefore, vital to instruct lawyers who can present your account in a cogent, persuasive manner. Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors has the experience, knowledge and expertise to fight your corner. We can assist whether when an allegation of money laundering is made in the context of a regulatory investigation, a civil recovery action or a criminal investigation. It is vital to contact lawyers skilled in defending often complex and challenging investigations of this kind.

Our financial crime and regulatory team is ranked amongst the best in the UK and is supported by an exceptional criminal defence department.  We can provide exceptional advice to guide you through these allegations.

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Why Hodge Jones & Allen?

We have extensive, unparalleled experience of acting in defending money laundering allegations. We act for both individuals and organisations.

Acting for Individuals

Some individuals can be caught up in money laundering allegations by fairly straightforward means – perhaps by transporting cash or allowing funds to pass through their own bank accounts. Alternatively the allegations may be more sophisticated –for instance property may have crossed international borders and involved serious organised crime groups.

At Hodge Jones and Allen, we have defended matters involving a range of investigatory authorities including the National Crime Agency (NCA), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Counter Terrorist unit of the Metropolitan Police.

Acting for Organisations

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 also seeks to control the way that businesses operate with a view to preventing them being used by criminals to launder the proceeds of crime. Money Laundering Regulations direct the way that certain professionals can deal with client funds. The Regulations impose certain duties and direct particular businesses and professionals to review their procedures, check identities, keep records and satisfy themselves as to the source of money they receive.

It is important that it can be shown that the business has taken reasonable steps to guard against it being used as a vehicle for wrong doing. When concern is raised, disclosures must be made and these must be carried out in a particular manner. We can act for professional organisations or money laundering officers (MLOs) or other individuals.

If wrong-doing is investigated there can be serious consequences in terms of reputation, financial penalties and even, if prosecution follows, a risk of custody.

We at Hodge Jones and Allen recognise how high the stakes are and the importance of protecting your business and career. We can adeptly guide you through the process.

Professional Expertise

From the start, we make sure that all of your concerns can be addressed by our multi-disciplinary team. What happens at an initial interview or a police station can affect what happens with the rest of the case, which is why we provide this service by experienced practitioners 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We know that an investigation can mean that there is a serious risk to your reputation and we assist in managing this process.

Our experience means that there are few areas of business that we haven’t dealt with. We can quickly assimilate how the business works and why transactions occur in the way that they do. This gives us a head start to prepare your case and act as proactively as we can.

Our forensic approach to analysis, our ability to call on decades of contacts of the very best accountants, financial experts and specialist barristers means that we can manage your case quickly and efficiently.

Money Laundering offences are often subject to restraint or confiscation proceedings. Our Financial Crime and Regulatory Team are mindful of this from the start.  We can advise on how your decisions affect these proceedings and make clear and strategic plans to successfully defend your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there different types of money laundering?

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, there are three main types of money laundering offence:

  1. Concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing ‘criminal property’. The property must be shown to be the proceeds of criminal conduct. To be guilty of this offence, the person must know or suspect that the property is the proceeds of criminal conduct.
  2. Arranging, or involvement in a process that facilitates the acquiring, retaining or controlling of criminal property. It is enough that a person suspects that the property at the centre of this arrangement represents the benefit of criminal behaviour.
  3. Procuring, utilising or simply possessing criminal property. It is sufficient for the prosecution to prove that the person suspected that the property was criminal.
  • If I am convicted of money laundering, what can I be sentenced to?

The maximum sentences for the principle money laundering offences is 14 years – but actual sentences can range from a fine to a lengthy prison sentence. The Sentencing Guidelines Council have issued guidelines to courts, which they must bear in mind when they decide what punishment to give you. Sentencing is not an exact science. There are a range of sentencing options open to the Court. When facing sentence for an allegation of money laundering, it is vital to have a specialist financial crime lawyer to secure the lowest possible sentence for you.

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