Specialists in Serious Fraud and Complex Criminal Defence
Money Laundering Solicitors
MPR Solicitors have a wealth of experience of defending clients who have been accused of money laundering. We are a niche practice, dealing almost exclusively with criminal defence, fraud and white-collar crime. As such, we have an in-depth knowledge in these areas of law.
To contact us regarding a charge of money-laundering, please call our office on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment at our London office.
As a team, we provide a partner-led, quality, professional service. If you have been accused of money laundering, your professional reputation; career and freedom may be at stake. You can trust us to provide expert advice and robust representation while supporting you, your family and your business throughout the investigation.
Our practise focuses on our core areas of law; therefore, clients who instruct us can be confident of our in-depth knowledge and experience in our areas of expertise. We are proficient, not only in domestic money laundering law but in acting for clients who have been accused of cross-jurisdictional offences.
If you have been accused of money laundering, it is crucial that you take the charge seriously and instruct quality, experienced money laundering solicitors to advise and represent you. Our early involvement at the investigation stage will ensure that you receive the right advice at the police station during any interviews. We will work with you to avoid you being charged but where that is not possible we will work with you to prepare your case at trial. Our fraud lawyers will work with you to mount a positive and pro-active defence to any charges.
What is money-laundering?
Money laundering is a generic term that describes the process that criminals use to disguise the original ownership and control of criminal proceeds by making the money appear to have come from a legitimate source.
In colloquial terms, it is the ‘cleaning up’ of dirty money.
There are generally three stages of the money laundering process;
- placement of the criminal funds into the financial system – this is the most difficult stage and is where most people are caught
- layering - the process of moving the money throughout the financial system, usually achieved through multiple complex transactions often involving complicated offshore company structures and trusts
- integration – once the criminal origin of the money has been successfully disguised, it is invested in legitimate businesses or assets such as property
What is the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002?
The main money laundering offences created by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 are:
- the concealing offence
- the arranging offence
- the acquisition, use or possession offence
The concealing offence involves a person concealing, disguising, converting or transferring criminal property, or removing criminal property from a jurisdiction. Criminal property is defined as property which constitutes a person’s benefit from criminal conduct, and the alleged offender knows or suspects the property represents such a benefit.
If you are accused of concealing, disguising, converting or transferring or removing criminal property, the principle defences are:
- making an authorised disclosure under the Proceeds of Crime Act, section 338,
- having a reasonable excuse not to make a disclosure, or
- believing the relevant conduct that has led to a charge of money laundering occurred outside of the UK and was not unlawful in the territory in which it occurred.
- That the property concerned is not ‘criminal property’
- That you did not ‘know or suspect’ that the property was criminal property
A person may be guilty of an arrangement offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 if they enter into a situation which they know or suspect involves the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property, by or on behalf of another person. This offence is wide and is designed to catch money launderers at the layering and integration stage. The prosecution must prove the defendant knew or suspected that the arrangement they entered into helped another person acquire, retain, use or control criminal property. The criminal property (which can take the form of money) must exist at the time the arrangement comes into effect, rather than when the defendant enters into the situation. In addition, the prosecution must show that the property in question derived from criminal conduct or that the evidence shows that the manner in which the property was handled gives rise to an inevitable inference that crime must have been involved.
Acquisition, use or possession offence
A person commits an offence if they acquire, use or have possession of criminal property. The prosecution does not have to prove dishonesty, if the defendant was suspicious, that is enough. There is no precise definition of ‘suspicion’ in this context. Through case law, the courts have stated that for suspicion to occur, the defendant “must think there is a possibility, which is more than fanciful, that the relevant facts exist and is of a settled nature.” Suspicion is subjective; although it is deemed to be more than a gut feeling, such unease may have prompted further investigation into the origin of the property.
As with the offence of concealment, a defence is available if the defendant made an ‘authorised disclosure’ under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, section 338 or had a reasonable excuse for not doing so. If adequate consideration had been given for the acquisition, use or possession or the property, a defence is not committed. In addition, a defence is available if the criminal conduct occurred abroad and was, at the time, not unlawful in that particular jurisdiction.
Defending charges of money laundering can be extremely complex. Our money laundering solicitors have an in-depth understanding of the law and experience in defending cases involving multiple jurisdictions and complex corporate veils and trust setups.
What is the maximum penalty for money laundering in the UK?
The maximum sentence for money-laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is an unlimited fine or 14 years’ prison. The Sentencing Council has produced a Fraud, Bribery and Money Laundering Offences: Definitive Guideline, to assist in the sentencing of money laundering offences. When deciding on the appropriate sentence the court must look at the culpability of the defendant, the harm caused by their actions and any aggravating or mitigating factors. The court will take into account the origin of the criminal property. If the origin of the criminal property was from terrorism related activity, drug trafficking or organised crime then these will be serious aggravating features.
If you are being investigated for money laundering offences or have been charged, please get in touch immediately so we can work with you to build a pro-active defence.
To contact our money laundering solicitors in complete confidence, please call 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.