Successive governments have counted the cost of serious and organised crime, but just prior to dissolving parliament the outgoing Conservative Government introduced the most significant legislation in this area for decades.

Ison Harrison successfully acting for clients in some of the most complex criminal and regulatory investigations performed nationwide in recent years.

Now that the Bill has received Royal Assent, Ian takes a closer look:

The Criminal Finances Bill: what is behind it?

Along with the 2010 Bribery Act, this is the most important anti-corruption legislation to be passed in the UK in the past 30 years, and is critical in bringing the UK’s laws up to date so they can keep pace with modern criminals.

These are the words of Robert Barrington, the Executive Director of a charity working to combat corruption. When an industry expert talks in such strong terms, it underlines just how significant the Bill really is.

Some of the Government’s own statistics are rather eye-opening:

  • The Home Office estimates that serious and organised crime costs the UK at least £24 billion per year;
  • The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that the amount of money laundered in the UK could be between £36-90 billion.

What is in the Bill?

The Bill is intended to ‘create new powers to help both law enforcement agencies and the private sector investigate and tackle money laundering.’

Some of the most important measures include:

  • The introduction of the Unexplained Wealth Order. This will force people to ‘explain the origin of their wealth’ if their assets are said to be out of proportion to their ‘known wealth.’
  • Disclosure Orders, which are currently available, will be extended to money laundering investigations

There are specific measures to strengthen the existing Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) regime:

  • Firms within the regulated sector (such as accountancy firms) will be allowed to share information between themselves;
  • The NCA will be permitted to follow up on an SAR, in cases whereby the NCA needs further information;

If you require advice on the new Bill or any other issue dealt with in this article, please contact Ison Harrison.

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