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A basic guide to the Proceeds of Crime Act

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 extended the law relating to money laundering by targeting the proceeds of any criminal conducted in the United Kingdom. The aim was to deprive criminals of money and property accumulated by means of illegal activities. The Act has since been amended by the Serious Crime Act 2007.

Money laundering

Money laundering is the process by which criminals distance themselves from the proceeds of their crimes by routing the money through other legitimate businesses. United Kingdom law defines money laundering as handling or being involved in the proceeds of crime. The Proceeds of Crime Act, as supplemented by the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, set up a process by which prosecutors could force criminals to repay the sums that they have accumulated by criminal conduct.

Reporting

Financial firms must report any dealings that they suspect to involve the proceeds of crime. In practice, this means that any professional working in a financial organisation such as a bank or investment firm must be aware of suspicious transactions and report them to a superior. Failure to do so can result in a prison sentence.

Assets Recovery Agency

The Proceeds of Crime Act created the Assets Recovery Agency and gave it the power to take action in the courts to recover property obtained by criminal means. The Serious Crime Act of 2007 transferred the Assets Recovery Agency’s powers to the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which now deals with money laundering cases. Confiscation orders According to the Proceeds of Crime Act, the courts have the power to deprive criminals of money or property acquired through criminal means. Once the confiscation order has been granted, the criminal must either pay the sums due or serve a prison sentence. Any cash or assets recovered are used to fund community projects.

Offences

Facilitating
The Proceeds of Crime Act makes it a criminal offence to be involved in arrangements which facilitate another person acquiring, using or controlling the proceeds of crime. Tipping off It is also a criminal offence to do or say anything that might tip off another person that he or she is suspected of acquiring or using the proceeds of crime. Tipping off may result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

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