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Amend section 330 of Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Comment 8th August 2010

This is mainly of concern to solicitors such as myself, but also to accountants, bankers and other professionals.  The Proceeds of Crime Act was a piece of Labour legislation, ostensibly passed to meet our EU and international obligations in the fight against terrorists, moneylaunderers and other criminals, but in reality it was an example of overzealous goldplating of EU proposals by the British Government.

The legislation places very onerous, time-consuming and worrying responsibilities on UK professionals, because it requires them to detect (and report to the Authorities) on a wide range of activities that are deemed by the legislation to be "moneylaundering"; not only activities by their own clients, but also by non-client third parties, wherever or whenever that activity may take place (or have taken place). The legislation effectively turns bankers, lawyers and accountants into "coppers' narks".

 

The piece that is most difficult to swallow is Section 330(2):

"A person commits an offence if he knows or suspects, or has reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting, that another person is engaged in moneylaundering, ….and this information came to him in the course of a business in the regulated sector [i.e. bankers, lawyers, accountants]…..and he does not report this to the Authorities."

 

It is one thing to place on a professional, who actually knows or suspects his own client or someone else of doing (or having done) an act which is colourable as moneylaundering, to blow the whistle on that person.  [Although in my opinion, in the context of client confidentiality, the whole concept of whistle blowing on one's own client smacks of the totalitarian State, and frankly stinks.]   It is quite another thing to criminalise a professional, and to threaten him with a gaol sentence, because (on a objective view) he held information that a prosecutor considers should have caused him to suspect that a person was engaged in "moneylaundering", ….albeit that in his innocence the naive professional did not so suspect.

 

Let us therefore persuade our new Government to amend this pernicious Section 330 (2).

 

 

 

 

Why does this matter?

Because the offending legislation unnecessarily criminalises hard working and diligent professionals.

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