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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Money laundering: lawyers may be prosecuted for failure to disclose even where no crime

Money laundering: lawyers may be prosecuted for failure to disclose even where no crime


CPS guidance update has clarified circumstances in which regulated professionals may be prosecuted 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has updated its money laundering guidance on prosecuting standalone ‘failure to disclose’ cases under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).

Section 330 of POCA obliges regulated professionals to report suspicions of money laundering in certain circumstances. From 2 June 2021, it will be possible to prosecute a section 330 offence regardless of whether a money laundering offence has been substantiated.

The guidance states: “It is possible to charge an individual under section 330 even though there is insufficient evidence to establish that money laundering was planned or has taken place.

“Section 330 therefore creates an obligation to report suspicions of money laundering to the authorities, regardless of whether money laundering actually takes place.”

As such, where regulated individuals receive information giving rise to a suspicion, or which provides reasonable grounds for suspecting, a person is engaged in money laundering, an offence is committed by failing to make a report under section 330, regardless of whether it subsequently transpires the money laundering did not occur or cannot be proven. 

The CPS stated the update is to encourage regulated professionals to disclose any suspicion of money laundering to law enforcement and that it believes the guidance will provide clarity for prosecutors and law enforcement when charging under section 330.