The National Crime Agency announced last week that it has secured three Unexplained Wealth Orders as part of its investigation into London property linked to “a politically exposed person believed to be involved in serious crime.” We are told that the UWOs are for three residential properties in prime locations – originally bought for more than £80m and held by offshore companies.
As the National Crime Agency (“NCA”) releases its 2019 National Strategy Assessment, NCA Director General Lynne Owens is calling for an extra £2.7 billion in law enforcement funding to combat serious and organised crime over the next three years. With 4,542 active UK-based organised crime groups and 181,000 UK people involved in serious and organised crime, law enforcement agencies are starting to creak under the strain. In this blog, we review the National Strategy Assessment’s analysis of current trends in financial offending and we look at the authorities’ response within their current funding arrangements. Against that background, we consider the argument for greater investment in law enforcement capacity.
During the Treasury’s recent consultation on Anti Money Laundering, it was noted that the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill is an example of the leading role being taken by the UK in respect of improving transparency in the property market.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) confirmed in March that it will be writing to a “large number” of firms (400) asking to see evidence of compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (“MLR 2017”). A failure to respond to the SRA request can have regulatory and criminal consequences.
At the time of writing it is not clear whether the UK will be leaving the European Union on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement, a No Deal scenario or whether indeed Article 50 will be extended for a period. What is clear, however, is that there are serious concerns that law enforcement co-operation will be significantly hampered due to Brexit compared to the current regime.