The Criminal Finances Bill together with the Magnitsky amendment form the cornerstone of the new anti money laundering regime in the UK.
Now if law enforcement agencies have reasonable grounds to suspect that someone has benefited from illegal activities they will be able to apply for a court order requiring that person to explain the origin of assets worth over 100,000 which appear disproportionate to their known income. Failing to provide an adequate explanation will lead to a rebuttable presumption that the asset in question was obtained through unlawful conduct and can be treated as “recoverable property” under the existing civil recovery powers in POCA.
In a similar fashion the government can freeze the assets of someone who has been involved in a human rights violations in a foreign country provided that if a similar offence were committed in the UK it would be criminal. We welcome the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders and human rights abusers asset freezes, expecting the government to start enforcing these measures by the end of this year.
However, this legislation is incomplete without the requirement for mandatory disclosure of the beneficiaries of offshore companies holding properties and other assets in the UK. So that money launderers and human rights abusers cannot hide behind anonymous offshore companies, the government should deliver the relevant law as soon as possible.
The work started by the consultations on property ownership last April should be completed in the manner agreed then, which will make the UK anti money laundering legislation the most comprehensive and robust in the world. Nonetheless even the toughest laws and regulations will prove ineffective without their enforcement. We need to see prosecutions with real cases tried in courts and results being delivered.
In the meantime we would like to thank our supporters in Parliament who made very helpful contributions including; Dame Margaret Hodge, Dominic Raab, Tom Brake, Douglas Carswell, Ian Blackford, Sir Eric Pickles.
The advice of Bill Browder, Jonathan Fisher QC, Mark Sabah was generous and influential beyond measure.
The campaigning organisations TransparencyInternational, Christian Aid, Global Witness and the Anti-Corruption APPG gave invaluable support throughout our efforts and were welcoming and encouraging of this insurgent effort.
Our thanks again to all!