The Proceed of Crime Act 2002 also known as POCA was implemented to combat organised crime such as money laundering. The Act gives scope for prosecutions for money laundering offences in the United Kingdom and in some instances, this can extend out to individuals who are not in the United Kingdom, but the substantial element of the offence primarily took place within the United Kingdom.
Anything earned because of an individual or company carrying out unlawful activity can be an offence and recovered under POCA. Money laundering offences are usually investigated by the national rime agency (NCA), the police or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
A number of procedures are available to deprive an offender of the benefits gained from their criminal conduct. Items such as money, cars, property, and high value items can be confiscated. The court can make a compensation order, where payment of money needs to be made to any victim for the loss or damage suffered as a result of the offender’s conduct. Bank accounts can be frozen and other orders can be made by the court to reprimand the offender for their actions.
An individual can be prosecuted for committing money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime act 2002 and these are set out at in sections 327 to 329 of POCA. These offences are punishable with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine. These offences are relating to concealing, disguising, converting, transferring, or removing criminal property, or arranging the acquisition, possession, use or control of criminal property.
Money laundering risks are something which all businesses especially those handling funds for other people need to monitor to avoid being involved in money laundering crimes. An individual can be convicted when it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the property is criminal property, and that the person knew or suspected that the property they were dealing with was criminal property. There are no limitation periods attached to money laundering offences in POCA.
The purpose of POCA is to act as a deterrent for potential offenders as the consequences are serious. However, POCA also prosecutes individuals who were part of a transaction but did not act on their suspicion and failed to report. These are known as reporting offences which include failure to disclose or tip-off a suspicion, especially those in a regulated sector. Even the most prudent professionals can unwittingly become a channel for money laundering, therefore it is important to take preventative measures in order to protect yourself.
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