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If you have been accused of, or charged with, assisting money laundering in the UK, you are understandably worried about what might come next. Money laundering, and the related crime of assisting money laundering, are serious crimes that can result in severe penalties, including a prison sentence. In the UK, there are a number of laws in place to combat money laundering, and on first glance, they seem quite intimidating. This is because financial crime has a considerable impact not just on individual victims, but also on the broader economy. This article will explore the sentencing guidelines for assisting money laundering offences in the UK, and will provide some examples of money laundering to help you understand what activities might fall under the remit of this crime. We also look at sentencing and defences to help you plan your next move.
Money laundering is a criminal offence in the UK and it is defined as any activity that conceals or disguises the true origin of money or assets achieved through criminal activities.
Money laundering is the process of disguising the proceeds of illegal activity as legitimate funds. Under Part 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, it is an offence to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property from England and Wales, or to bring criminal property into England and Wales.
It is also an offence to enter into or become concerned in an arrangement that a person knows or suspects facilitates the acquisition, retention, use, or control of criminal property by or on behalf of another person. This includes both individuals and organisations. The maximum sentence for money laundering under this Act is 14 years in prison.
When it comes to assisting money laundering, the offence is just the same, as is the punishment. In England and Wales, it is a criminal offence to assist an offender with the intention of preventing that person from being arrested or prosecuted for a relevant offence with the knowledge or belief that the person has committed the offence. This act of assistance is known as ‘assisting an offender.’
Money laundering offences can be committed by individuals or companies, and can even involve international networks. Common examples of activities that could constitute money laundering include using false identities to open bank accounts, transferring funds between countries using different currencies, and mixing illegal proceeds with legal funds.
When prosecutors look at money laundering offences, they are looking at the following types or categories of actions:
As you can see, money laundering is a broad offence and numerous types of financial activity may constitute an offence.
Money laundering cases in the UK typically rely on a combination of different types of evidence, including financial records, witness testimony, and documentary evidence.
In addition to these types of evidence, police and financial crime investigators may also use surveillance techniques, such as wiretaps or undercover operations, to gather further information about the money laundering scheme and the individuals involved in it.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, if you are found guilty of assisting money laundering in the UK, you could face up to 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Money laundering offences are treated very seriously by UK authorities, and the sentence for assisting money laundering offences can be more severe if you are found to have had a leadership role in organising or directing such activity.
The court will also consider aggravating factors when deciding on the sentence. For example, if you have been convicted of other related financial crimes, or if you have been found to have used sophisticated techniques to conceal criminal funds. If convicted, you could also be subject to a confiscation order for any assets or property that can be traced back to your involvement with money laundering offences.
Likewise, the judge will consider mitigating factors. Mitigating factors are circumstances that may reduce the severity of a crime or the punishment for it. In the case of the offence of money laundering, some possible mitigating factors could include the following:
A judge or other decision-maker in a criminal case will consider these and other factors when determining the appropriate sentence for a defendant convicted of money laundering.
If you are accused of assisting money laundering in the UK, there are a number of potential defences that can be used to argue your case. For example, you may be able to demonstrate that you had no knowledge of the criminal activities being conducted or that you did not have any intention to further the crime. Additionally, if you are accused of assisting money laundering through a company, it is possible to argue that you were not involved in the decision-making process.
As with other crimes, you may also be able to rely on ‘general defences’, which include:
These are just some examples of potential defences to crime under English criminal law. In any given case, the specific facts and circumstances will determine which defences, if any, may be available. Remember, every defence strategy must be backed up by evidence.
It is important to seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible if you are accused of assisting money laundering. An experienced criminal defence solicitor can help you to understand your rights and explain the options available to you. With a good legal team on your side, it may be possible to avoid a conviction or reduce the severity of the sentence imposed. If you are found guilty, your lawyer will be able to provide advice and assistance with applications for confiscation orders and other related issues. Contact the experts at Stuart Miller Solicitors today for a free consultation about your options.
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