Q&A: Money laundering

A lot! The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 includes new rules on money laundering (sections 331 to 343) which do affect tax advisers. The new rules create a number of criminal offences including:

  • acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of criminal conduct;
  • concealing or transferring the proceeds of such conduct;
  • assisting another to retain the benefit of such conduct;
  • tipping off suspects about a money laundering investigation; and
  • failing to report knowledge or suspicion of laundering relating to terrorism or drug trafficking.

It’s also an offence to assist in the obtaining, concealing, retaining or investing of assets which are the proceeds of criminal conduct. All offences amount to criminal conduct even if they take place overseas.

There is a defence if you can show you did not know or suspect criminal conduct or prove you reported your knowledge or suspicion at the first available opportunity.

The penalty for breaching the new rules is severe with a prison term of up to 14 years and/or heavy fines.

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