Reasons Why Many Of Today's Criminal Cases Also Have Money Laundering Counts Included

When a fraud was committed it was not always clear what law had been broken. The Theft Act was often used, and a great favourite was using the equitable offence of Conspiracy to Defraud. The Fraud Act 2006 was an attempt to encompass all offences within a single piece of legislation and was intended to do away with the inclusion of various different offences under the likes of the Theft Act and many other pieces of legislation.

But a great many fraud cases will now include offences also under POCA 2002 (amended in 2008). This is essentially bringing in the separate offence of money laundering into the matter.

Money laundering is a term used to describe how criminals deal with their proceeds of crime. However they steal money or assets, they must be able to spend the money or turn the assets into cash, which they can then spend. They must be able to do this in a way that they seem to be spending legitimate money obtained from a bone fide source. Thus stolen funds must be laundered. Money laundering involves positioning the stolen money into the general financial system, hiding its source by moving it around and then taking it from the system as "clean" money that cannot be traced back to crime. All parts of the process, including just a single payment using criminal funds, can be considered as money laundering.

The Proceeds of Crime Act introduced stringent penalties for persons involved in money laundering. Once convicted of this type of offence the Crown can apply drastic assumptions that it couldn't during the trial, concerning all property and transactions going back six years. Effectively, being convicted of money laundering means that you must explain each and every part of your finances over a long period of time and show that you did not enjoy a criminal lifestyle.

It is easy to include a money laundering offence in any criminal matter involving pecuniary advantage. Even not paying after filling up your car with fuel could subsequently result in a money laundering count being added, though this may be the extreme case. It is easy to attract a money laundering indictment by simply inflating your salary declared when applying for a mortgage, even though you subsequently paid all the installments on time and even paid off the loan completely.

Defending subsequent attempts to confiscate all your wealth is not always easy when assumptions of a criminal lifestyle are applied. Sometimes it is not always possible to prove even where legitimate income has come from. Cash businesses are particularly vulnerable, and the need for keeping credible records is important. Decided cases have shown that failure to keep adequate records will not be accepted by a Court.

In the same way, side earning from the like of eBay or gifts from family members will always be assumed to be criminal receipts. Most of us fail to record the source of family gifts or money from frien lent to buy a house or a deposit on a car - however if they then for some reason get involved in even a minor crime they will be open to losing everything they have.

The money laundering offences within the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 are very powerful tools for the regulators who will use them whenever they can to make the chance of a positive outcome for them more likely. Their use does not mean that justice might not be carried out and innocent victims will lose their homes and savings. It does however mean that the process of defending a criminal matter has become a much more complicated affair, with the need of additional experts such as forensic accountants increasing in order that the fairest outcome is still obtained.

Mark Jenner is a forensic accountant who specialises in fraud investigation. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, a Member of the Expert Witness Institute, a Certified Fraud Examiner and has a Masters Degree in Fraud Management. His website can be found at =>

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