Money laundering is an illegal means whereby illegally obtained or undeclared income is effectively laundered from its "dirty" state into "clean" money. Money laundering is considered a "white collar" crime and comes under the remit of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

The process of money laundering is opaque and often difficult to identify. This is because the whole process is designed to hide the source of the money and to instead make it appear like it has been legitimately obtained.

Over recent years the UK government has, together with the European Union, made a considerable effort to combat money laundering.

Anti-money laundering legislation

The main instruments in this fight against money laundering are the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (amended in 2012 and further revised in 2014). Under these Acts firms have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to know their clients and their income sources, to undertake appropriate risk assessments and to report any suspicions they might have regarding certain transactions.

However, this can create a significant compliance burden and in some cases may lead to unfounded suspicion being cast on innocent firms and their associates.

If you or your firm are facing allegations of money laundering or another type of "white collar" offence, Oratto's member business crime solicitors can help you uphold your rights while ensuring the minimum damage to your business's reputation.

Understanding money laundering

Money laundering can be carried out by the person who originated the dirty money (self laundering) or, in many cases, by a third party. Money laundering schemes can be difficult to identify and trace, and frequently involve labyrinthine company structures and opaque offshore accounts.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) there are three main types of money laundering. These are:

  • Placement - the process of dishonestly placing dirty money into legal financial systems
  • Layering – the complex process of hiding dirty money in complex arrays of transactions, financial jurisdictions and offshore accounts
  • Integration - the process of hiding dirty money by investing it into "clean" assets such as businesses and property investments

Restraint orders

Parties under investigation for money laundering offences frequently become subject to restraint orders which seek to freeze assets with a view to potential future confiscation order in the case of conviction.

Being subject to a restraint order can be financially difficult and emotionally draining experience. As such it is vital that any party facing this situation receives specialist advice at the earliest stage so that the issues at hand can be dealt with in as proactive and effective a manner as possible.

Money laundering defence solicitors

Money laundering is a complex and high stakes area of the law. If you are under investigation for a money laundering offence, it is essential that you seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible. This is true even if you have become unwittingly involved because of the potentially criminal actions of another party.

Oratto's member business crime solicitors have extensive experience of representing clients under investigation for money laundering offences and can help you fully uphold your rights under the UK law.

For help, advice and information that will make a difference to you and your business get in touch with us today.