The U.K. government published new legislation this month that will give law enforcement agencies new powers to tackle money laundering and corruption, seize the proceeds of crime, and counter terrorist financing.
Introduced before the House of Commons on Oct. 13, the Criminal Finances Bill will force those suspected of serious crime to explain where their wealth has come from, or risk having it seized. Law enforcement agencies will apply to the High Court for permission to put an order in place, according to the U.K. government.
“These orders will improve the recovery of illicit funds and prevent the U.K. from being used as a safe haven for the proceeds of international corruption,” the U.K. government said in a statement.
The legislation will also allow for the forfeiture of money stored in bank accounts as well as precious metals and stones and a range of other items. “There must be reasonable suspicion that the property is either the proceeds of crime, or that it is intended for use in unlawful conduct,” the U.K. government stated.
Other key measures within the legislation include:
A provision to allow the sharing of information, such as data on financial transactions, between regulated bodies, improving the use of public and private sector resources in combating money laundering;
The introduction of a new criminal offence for companies who fail to prevent tax evasion, sending out a clear message that anyone doing business in and with the UK must have the highest possible compliance standards;
The extension of disclosure orders to money laundering and terrorist financing cases, requiring someone suspected of having information or documents relevant to an investigation to provide it;
Enhancement of the suspicious activity reports regime, providing additional powers to the National Crime Agency and extending the amount of time senior officers, primarily from law enforcement agencies, have to investigate transactions; and
Bolstering the law enforcement agency response to the threats from terrorist financing, helping to combat the raising or movement of terrorist funds and strengthening partnerships with the regulated sector.
“The bill is a key element of one of the most significant changes to our anti-money laundering and terrorist finance regime in over a decade,” the U.K. government said. “It is part of a wider package of measures aimed at strengthening the government’s response to money laundering and improving the amount of criminal assets confiscated by the state (and, where possible, returned to victims).”