The Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) has been available to law enforcement since February 2018. UWOs are intended to bolster the Proceeds of Crime regime, by making it easier for law enforcement agencies to seize assets suspected of representing criminal property.
The next in this series of our “no deal Brexit” blogs looks at the implications for measures tackling proceeds of crime. As politicians continue to wrangle over the future, one of the latest technical regulations designed to prepare for a no deal Brexit has been published – that which relates to policing and criminal justice - The Law Enforcement and Security (Amendment) (EU exit) Regulations 2019 (the Regulations).
The recent confirmation by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that it is investigating 18 firms involved in the sale of crypto assets, such as Bitcoin, indicates a ramping up of regulatory focus on the controversial sector.
In December 2018, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published its report on the UK regime to counter money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF). The report praises the strength of the UK regime, noting that the UK has a ‘robust’ understanding of ML/TF risk, and proactively investigates, prosecutes and convicts ML and TF. The report cites that the UK achieves “around 7900 investigations, 2000 prosecutions and 1400 convictions annually for stand-alone ML offences or where ML is the principle offence”.
At the end of last year the National Crime Agency published its annual report on Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) for 2018. Media reporting (such as in the FT, subscription required), on the annual report has focussed, amongst other things, on the relatively small proportion of SARs made by lawyers. Is this a fair criticism and, if so, what is the reason for it?