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Fraud Offences Articles

What happens for a first offence of Money Laundering Conspiracy?

money laundering conspiracy

Conspiracy to commit money laundering is a very serious offence in the UK and anyone charged with or prosecuted for this offence will face wide-ranging legal consequences. That is why getting help from an experienced money laundering solicitor is imperative. This article explains what conspiracy to commit money laundering is, how it can be committed, and what the possible sentences are. It also discusses whether first-time offenders could be incarcerated – sent to prison – for this offence and where accused individuals should go for help.

What is the offence of money laundering conspiracy in the UK?

Money laundering conspiracy is an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Bribery Act 2010. It is a conspiracy to arrange, acquire, possess, use or control the proceeds of criminal conduct.

To be guilty of money laundering conspiracy, the prosecution must prove that:

  • The defendant agreed with another person to engage in money laundering;
  • The defendant knew or suspected that the proceeds of criminal conduct were involved; and
  • The defendant intended to commit money laundering.

Three sections of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 are involved in money laundering cases:

Note that the defendant does not need to have actually committed money laundering in order to be guilty of money laundering conspiracy. It is sufficient if they agreed to engage in money laundering and intended to do so.

Note also that the Bribery Act 2010 specifically mentions money laundering conspiracy as one of the offences that commercial organisations can be held liable for under the strict liability offence. This means that a commercial organisation can be fined for money laundering conspiracy even if it was not aware of the conspiracy and did not benefit from it.

What are some examples of money laundering conspiracy offences in the UK?

Here are some examples of money laundering conspiracy offences in the UK:

  • A group of people agree to set up a shell company to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking.
  • A company and its directors agree to falsify invoices in order to conceal the proceeds of bribery.
  • A group of accountants agree to help their clients launder the proceeds of tax evasion.
  • A lawyer and their client agree to set up a trust to launder the proceeds of insider trading.
  • A politician and their business associates agree to set up a series of offshore companies to launder the proceeds of corruption.

What happens if you are suspected of committing money laundering conspiracy in the UK?

If you are suspected of committing money laundering conspiracy in the UK, you could face serious legal consequences. Here’s what can happen if you are suspected of such a crime:

  • Investigation: Law enforcement agencies, such as the police or the National Crime Agency (NCA), may initiate an investigation into the alleged money laundering conspiracy. This typically involves gathering evidence, conducting interviews, and seeking information from various sources.
  • Arrest and Questioning: If there is sufficient evidence, you may be arrested and questioned by the authorities. You have the right to remain silent and seek legal representation during questioning.
  • Charges: If the investigation uncovers evidence that suggests you were involved in a money laundering conspiracy, you may be charged with a criminal offence.
  • Proceedings: The case will proceed to legal proceedings, which may include court hearings and trials. During these proceedings, you will have the opportunity to present your defence, and the prosecution will present evidence against you.
  • Conviction: If you are found guilty in court, you could face various penalties, including fines and imprisonment. The severity of the penalties will depend on the nature and extent of your involvement in the money laundering conspiracy.
  • Confiscation Orders: In some cases, the court may issue confiscation orders to recover the proceeds of money laundering. This may involve seizing assets or funds connected to the illegal activity.
  • Reputation Damage: Being suspected or convicted of money laundering conspiracy can seriously damage your personal and professional reputation.
  • Civil Liability: Apart from criminal charges, you may also face civil liability, including lawsuits from affected parties seeking damages.
  • Prevention and Reporting Obligations: The UK has stringent anti-money laundering laws and regulations, which place obligations on individuals and businesses to prevent money laundering and report suspicious activities. Failing to meet these obligations can result in legal consequences.

If you are suspected of being involved in a money laundering conspiracy in the UK, it is crucial that you obtain the advice of an experienced money laundering solicitor to understand your rights and options throughout the legal process. Money laundering is taken very seriously in the UK, and legal penalties can be incredibly damaging to your personal and professional life.

What is the sentence for an offence involving money laundering conspiracy?

The sentence for an offence involving money laundering conspiracy under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is the same as the sentence for money laundering itself, which is up to 14 years in prison. The court will consider a number of factors when sentencing an offender for money laundering conspiracy, including:

  • The nature and seriousness of the offence
  • The culpability of the offender
  • The harm caused
  • The offender’s previous criminal record
  • Any mitigating or aggravating factors

The court will, for example, consider whether the offender was a key player in the conspiracy, whether they benefited financially from the conspiracy, and whether the conspiracy involved a large amount of money.

The court is also likely to consider the impact of the offence on the victim(s). For example, if the conspiracy involved the proceeds of drug trafficking, the court will consider the impact of the drug trafficking on the victims of the drug-related crimes.

The court may also consider the offender’s personal circumstances, such as their age, health, and family commitments.

The best way to understand what sentence you might face is to obtain the advice of a criminal defence solicitor who can talk you through similar cases and explain what factors that judge might look at in your particular circumstances.

Will I go to prison if it is my first time committing an offence involving money laundering conspiracy?

Money laundering conspiracy is a serious offence, and even first time offenders can be sent to prison. That said, the likelihood of a first time offender going to prison is lower than the likelihood of a repeat offender going to prison.

The court will take a number of factors into account when sentencing a first time offender for money laundering conspiracy, including:

  • The nature and seriousness of the offence: The court will consider the nature of the money laundering conspiracy, such as the amount of money involved, the impact of the conspiracy on the victim(s), and the level of sophistication of the conspiracy.
  • The culpability of the offender: The court will consider the offender’s role in the conspiracy, their level of responsibility, and their intentions. For example, the court will consider whether the offender was the person who organised the conspiracy or whether they were simply following orders.
  • The harm caused: The court will consider the harm caused by the conspiracy, both to the victim(s) and to society as a whole. For example, the court will consider whether the conspiracy involved a breach of public trust or whether it led to financial loss.

The court is also likely to consider the offender’s personal circumstances, such as their age, health, and family commitments.

According to the Sentencing Council, the average custodial sentence for a money laundering offence in 2021 was 3 years. However, the range of sentences was very broad, with some offenders receiving sentences of less than 6 months and others receiving sentences of more than 7 years.

If you are a first time offender charged with money laundering conspiracy, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you to understand the charges against you and to represent you in court.

Where to get further help

For more information on the offence of money laundering conspiracy and to get help with the specifics of your case, get in touch with the experienced team at Stuart Miller Solicitors today. Our solicitors are experts in this field of law and may even be able to get your case dropped before it reaches trial and has the chance of damaging your public and private reputation.

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