If you or the organisation you work for has been accused of the serious offence of money laundering, the first step is to contact a specialist lawyer. In the UK, penalties for money laundering are severe, so it’s essential to get expert legal advice as soon as you become aware of any investigation against you, either internally at your place of work or by the National Crime Agency.
At Purcell Parker, our money laundering solicitors are experienced in defending these often-complex cases.
Money laundering lawyers in Birmingham
Our central Birmingham location means we are conveniently located for city-based clients. However, we are aware that discussing allegations of this nature can be time-consuming and stressful, so in these circumstances we can meet at a convenient time and place to discuss your situation. Also, in many circumstances, we are able to defend money laundering cases beyond the West Midlands.
Paying for your money laundering defence
If you are being investigated in connection with money laundering offences, you or your business will almost certainly be required to pay for your own legal representation. However, in order to help you plan at what will inevitably be an uncertain time, we may be able to provide you with a competitive fixed-fee quote for your legal defence.
What is money laundering?
Money laundering takes many forms but always has the same aim; to make the profits of crime appear legitimate.
It can range from small-scale operations involving one business to sophisticated global crime networks involving a large number of people and financial institutions, including offshore bank accounts which are chosen to help disguise the money’s illegal origins.
The term money laundering can incorporate many financial crimes including tax evasion, fraud, theft, bribery, cyber-crime and corruption.
As money laundering is often used by criminal gangs to finance their activities, it is also often an enabler of other serious crimes such as drug trafficking, modern slavery, illegal arms sales and even terrorism.
According to The National Crime Agency’s National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2018, it is possible that the cost of money laundering to the UK economy runs into hundreds of billions of pounds each year. The UK property market is a well-known target of money laundering organisations, particularly the high-end market in London.
Consequences of money laundering
Due to the serious effects on people’s lives and the economy, the UK has some of the strictest money laundering legislation in the world, with tough sentencing rules to match – 14 years imprisonment is possible in the most serious of cases.
Money laundering cases are prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This powerful and far-reaching piece of legislation was created to counter the increasingly destructive effects of money laundering on the UK economy. Under the Act, the authorities have the power to pursue confiscation orders to recover cash or other assets including property from individuals or organisations who they believe have benefited from the profits of crime or who they have identified as intending to use the assets in question for criminal activities.
Responsibilities regarding prevention of money laundering
Although many cases involve those who have been accused of being actively involved in a money laundering scheme, it is possible to be implicated even if you have been drawn in without your knowledge. However, there are tough rules on the legal responsibilities of businesses to do their bit to prevent money laundering and as a result, failure to comply with the regulations can result in penalties.
Professions that fall into the regulated category, such as banking, law and estate agencies are required by law under the 2017 Money Laundering Regulations to report any suspicious activity by submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency. It is often the case that investigations are launched due to multiple SARs, so failure to report any activity that could help identify a pattern of potentially criminal behaviour is taken seriously.
As a result of this, ignorance is not seen as an excuse and failure to spot the signs of money laundering can result in loss of a professional licence, fines or in serious cases, criminal charges. Purcell Parker’s solicitors can advise your business on best practice when it comes to compliance with the law by avoiding the risk of employees being inadvertently drawn into money laundering schemes through a lack of awareness.
Defending money laundering allegations
In a complex area of the law such as this, no two cases are ever the same. However, our money laundering solicitors will always aim to establish the circumstances of your case and work with you to achieve the best possible outcome, including an investigation being dropped entirely or avoiding fines, professional penalties and in the most serious cases, a prison sentence.
Purcell Parker can advise on all aspects of your case, from being interviewed under compulsion, to trial, to any confiscation of assets proceedings against you. To do this, it is necessary for us to gain access to all the material that is being used in the investigation. This enables us to use our expertise to challenge the case against you and provide any further evidence on your behalf that the authorities may have missed. If necessary, we will use forensic accountants as part of the process of building your defence case and disproving an account of your financial activities that aims to prove criminal activities.