Share this content
Tags:

Jail looms for advisers who turn a blind eye to crime

4th Jun 2014
Share this content
AIA

The Home Office plans to create an offence of 'participation in an organised crime group'  that will mean practitioners who turn a blind eye on criminal activity from which they profit could face up to five years in jail.

The serious crime bill proposal, set to be mentioned in today's Queen's Speech, sets out sanctions for the new criminal offence, which covers professional advisers such as accountants and lawyers.

In addition to a maximum of five years in prison for involvement in organised crime, they could be subject to further civil measures to deter them from returning to the same activities.

The law will bring in tougher asset seizure powers to let police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) confiscate assets and close loopholes more quickly.

The Home Office said the new powers were specifically aimed at organised crime groups and their professional and non-professional associates.

"These associates can currently adopt a ‘no questions asked’ approach and then claim in court they were unaware of the precise nature of the criminality they were involved in," according to a Home Office statement.

In addition, it will be used to target those in charge of criminal networks.

Under proposals, some of the changes will include: 

  • Increasing prison sentences for failing to pay confiscation orders
  • Ending automatic early release if criminals fail to cooperate with authorities to repay orders over £10m
  • Requiring judges to consider attaching overseas travel bans to confiscation orders and restraint orders
  • Ensuring criminal assets cannot be hidden with spouses, associates or other third parties by establishing the defendant’s interest in property earlier in confiscation proceedings
  • Enabling assets to be frozen more quickly and earlier in investigations
  • Reducing the maximum time to pay confiscation orders that the courts can give offenders from 12 to six months
  • Prioritising payments from the defendant to the Victim and Witness General Fund, which funds services to victims of crime, over amounts owed to the government
  • Ensuring individuals who abscond before being convicted in their absence are subject to confiscation

Minister for modern slavery and organised crime Karen Bradley said the new offence sends out a clear message to corrupt individuals.

“Nobody is above the law. But for too long corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals have tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability," she said, "If you are helping to oil the wheels of organised crime, you will be prosecuted and face being jailed.”  

Head of Company Law at the ICAEW Felicity Banks said that the measures have ICAEW's support. “As existing anti-money laundering legislation makes it clear that concealing or facilitating the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property is an offence, it is important that any new legislation in this area clarifies – rather than blurs the lines – of what is acceptable behaviour," she said. 

“Anybody can call themselves an accountant, but where they are not members of a professional body there are limited ways of ensuring that they act legally or ethically. ICAEW and its members  are required to act in accordance with our Code of Ethics, which is drawn up with a public interest mandate, and which has a very clear stance on what behaviour is acceptable."

Since 2010, more than £746m of criminal assets have been seized, in addition to over £2.5bn of criminal assets being frozen and £93m being returned to victims.

However, £1.48bn is currently outstanding in unpaid confiscation orders.

The single biggest unpaid confiscation order is over £57m including interest. It was granted in 2007 and is being enforced by the Serious Fraud Office. The oldest outstanding confiscation order is for £330,000 and dates back to 1988.

The Home Office said the bill would be legislated when parliamentary time allows.

For more comment, see the Business Tax Centre's suppliers page

Tags:

Replies (28)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By Silver Birch Accts
04th Jun 2014 12:23

Minister for Modern Slavery

My wife works for me and thinks modern slavery applies to her and that I should be bought to account!

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By The Black Knight
04th Jun 2014 12:23

feckless

Will this law have the same effect as the one that already does purports to do that, as in MLR2007

Like we think another new law is going to make any difference at all.

or is it a reduction from 14 years inside to 5 to encourage this activity.

Even if they report themselves they have no chance of being prosecuted.

Really is an absolute Joke!

Thanks (1)
avatar
By johnjenkins
04th Jun 2014 12:31

So looks like

the old conspiracy law coming back again. Then it's by virtue of the fact that your client is a criminal (which you are genuinely unaware of) that you get carted off to prison. 

The person who thought this crap up should themselves be put in prison. This is the biggest load of crap that I have heard of in ages.

We have enough laws to sort this out. We don't need anymore. It's just incompetence that causes more laws of this nature to be thought of.

Let's spend some time on chasing all the illegals committing crime after crime then not being allowed to be deported because they are entitled to this that and the other, but, of course, that costs money and there is nothing to come back in the kitty.

It would be interesting to know how many lawyers, accountants, revenue inspectors. MP's etc. are involved in organised crime and money laundering. Enough to make new laws - I don't think so.

If we haven't got laws enough to put organised gangs away then we are in a pretty poor situation and the government should resign.

No I haven't knowingly got any criminal clients. Yes your right it will only be the innocent that get done. Your client paid you out of a "private" so off to jail you go.

Thanks (3)
avatar
By The Black Knight
04th Jun 2014 12:35

laugh!

"Minister for modern slavery and organised crime Karen Bradley said the new offence sends out a clear message to corrupt individuals."

What a giraffe. Do they just make up name badges.

I think this sends a clear message that Ms Bradley hasn't got a clue.

What party is she? So I don't endorse by accident.

Are they for slavery then or should it be minister against. Difficult to fathom is the dark side too much vested interest in criminality.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Peter Kilvington:
avatar
By John MacDonald
04th Jun 2014 15:07

She's a Tory, or as Peter Hitchens always says in the Mail on Sunday, Blue Labour.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Peter Kilvington:
avatar
By John MacDonald
04th Jun 2014 15:10

In reply to The Black Knight

The Black Knight wrote:

"Minister for modern slavery and organised crime Karen Bradley said the new offence sends out a clear message to corrupt individuals."

What a giraffe. Do they just make up name badges.

I think this sends a clear message that Ms Bradley hasn't got a clue.

What party is she? So I don't endorse by accident.

Are they for slavery then or should it be minister against. Difficult to fathom is the dark side too much vested interest in criminality.

She's a Tory - or as Peter Hitchens always says in the Mail on Sunday, Blue Labour.
Thanks (0)
Replying to Gettingserious:
avatar
By The Black Knight
04th Jun 2014 15:20

Thank You

John MacDonald wrote:

She's a Tory - or as Peter Hitchens always says in the Mail on Sunday, Blue Labour.

that Nigel what's his name is beginning to look like a god like in comparison.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Naren
04th Jun 2014 12:43

  How about the Bankers and

  How about the Bankers and why are they not included.

Thanks (4)
avatar
By johnjenkins
04th Jun 2014 12:51

We also have

Felicity Banks asking to make it clear "what is acceptable behaviour" 

How do these people get these jobs? Got it. Not only do ethnic groups have to be represented, but incompetence groups also have to be represented.

Bankers are a law unto themselves.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Wanderer:
David Winch
By David Winch
04th Jun 2014 13:24

Mucking up the law

johnjenkins wrote:

Felicity Banks asking to make it clear "what is acceptable behaviour" 

How do these people get these jobs? Got it. Not only do ethnic groups have to be represented, but incompetence groups also have to be represented.


I think, to be fair, that Ms Banks was making a coded plea to government to ensure that the new provisions improve the law - and do not muck it up!
David
Thanks (1)
David Winch
By David Winch
04th Jun 2014 13:17

The new legislation
We shall have to see what exactly is in the new legislation. As is the case with the Budget speech we do not get the important detail on Day 1.
Some of this appears to be designed to further limit the discretion of judges when sentencing. The judges though are not the criminals!
We already have severe confiscation statute law - but the enforcement of the law can be haphazard or ineffective. Making yet more statute law does not address that.
There are some areas where the law could do with some tidying up & has arguably been interpreted by the criminal courts in ways which were not anticipated when POCA was enacted in 2002. There is some scope for improvement - let's hope that arrives in the new legislation.
But could one be forgiven for thinking that the government wishes to be seen to be doing something (without spending money)?
David

Thanks (1)
avatar
By 7555775
04th Jun 2014 13:29

So your client hides

the fact that he is a criminal from you and you are guilty of not having found out!!!!!! Exactly what sort of crimes are we talking about, all and any?

Thanks (1)
avatar
By johnjenkins
04th Jun 2014 14:50

@David

The only thing that government take notice of is straight talking, as proved in the last elections. Nigel has shown that the days of hush hush are numbered.

Come on David when hasn't government "mucked it up".

Thanks (0)
Time for change
By Time for change
04th Jun 2014 15:41

How naive can you be

I thought that Police officers were trained and dedicated to catching criminals? Talk about job/work diversity.

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By johnjenkins
04th Jun 2014 17:07

Methinks that

all Police Officer powers have been eroded. Have you ever watched Police patrol etc. They can't even arrest illegals, just tell them they got to go to a place in Liverpool. At the end of the program they always say they didn't turn up.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By carnmores
04th Jun 2014 20:30

so what about innocent till proven guilty

shall we chuck that one out as well.......................

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Marlinman
05th Jun 2014 06:13

Our clients are our friends and we earn a living from them. The govt are our enemies who steal from us, squander the money and through their own incompetence are still in debt. What accountant in his right mind would shop a client? These stupid laws will not get us to do their dirty work for them.

Thanks (1)
Replying to aiwalters:
By gerrysims
05th Jun 2014 10:31

well..

Marlinman wrote:
Our clients are our friends and we earn a living from them. The govt are our enemies who steal from us, squander the money and through their own incompetence are still in debt. What accountant in his right mind would shop a client? These stupid laws will not get us to do their dirty work for them.

Just this morning I had a call from my client, Don Corleone. He asked me about offing one of his suppliers. I told him he couldn't do that, een if he removed the record from the purchase ledger the liability would still have to be settled. The line just went dead. I think I should make a ML report.

Thanks (0)
David Winch
By David Winch
05th Jun 2014 11:57

@Marlinman & @gerrysims

Gerry is quite correct that removing the liability to the supplier from the purchase ledger would be reportable if dishonest (but 'offing' the guy would not of itself trigger an obligation to report).

As we know accountants do file approximately 5,000 reports every year under the existing legislation (and presumably a high proportion of those will relate to clients, former clients or potential clients).

The new offence may have some similarity to an existing offence under Scottish law which also obliges family members to 'shop' suspected criminals in specified circumstances.  My understanding is that the new English law will not go that far.

David

Thanks (0)
avatar
By johnjenkins
05th Jun 2014 12:31

@ David

The English law might not go that far but you can bet your sweet life that when HMRC get hold of it, it will be twisted out of all proportion.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Trethi Teg
05th Jun 2014 12:55

So what abour being innocent until proven guilty

They have already abandoned that principle yesterday by demanding payments up front where "they" decide its appropriate.

Also if no one noticed they are now going back 10 years in those same cases.

Then again who cares, its only the rich who will be effected and in a socialist country - which this is - the 99% carry the day.

The problem is the vast majority of accountants treasure their "professional" image above the interests of the people (clients) who feed them and their children.

Time to revolt, French style, against Osborne, Alexander and HMRC.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By johnjenkins
05th Jun 2014 13:13

Can you imagine

if every worker stopped being on PAYE and had their own Limited Company. What a revolt that would be.

Might make some people think a bit.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By The Black Knight
05th Jun 2014 15:40

they would be better off prosecuting

They would be better off prosecuting these imaginary offenders.

It's 10 years since the general money laundering legislation was enacted, and all it has done is waste resources.

Surely the lack of a prosecution proves that there are no accountants or solicitors that assist criminals so why we need more legislation?  Just for spin purposes?

A bit like taking MP's fraud more seriously in future. Was the fraud act not already sufficient. All of which should have been prosecuted. Not just a token few.

All that I know as a voter is a fair proportion of MP's are corrupt. Which ones I can't quite remember.

or is this like deliberate wrongdoing just lowering the penalties and thus the seriousness of the offence.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Jekyll and Hyde
06th Jun 2014 08:40

sounds like the storyline from The Firm.
We are not good enough to catch the criminals so we will prosecute the next best thing. This will put a dent into the criminals.

Thanks (1)
Replying to johnjenkins:
avatar
By The Black Knight
06th Jun 2014 11:31

NEVER HAPPEN

Jekyll and Hyde wrote:
We are not good enough to catch the criminals so we will prosecute the next best thing. This will put a dent into the criminals.

It will never happen.

They are not good enough - agree.

They have no will - general apathy of government supported individuals.

They have spent all their resources on a health a safety briefing about drinking tea or such like.

Added to which if no prosecution for the crime results there was no crime.

 

Top tips for extra safety - make it large - make it complicated they will drop the case - multiple defendants with a cut throat defence - bribe an officer - become an informant they have immunity from action (the proceeds of crime keeps the informants payments out of the budget. Sort of off balance sheet financing for government departments) - report it to artists formally known as SOCA for exemption from enquiry on grounds they already know.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By VIOLA26
06th Jun 2014 08:58

State of the nation

And we have the gall to criticise Vladimir Putin and his Stalinist state!

Thanks (1)
David Winch
By David Winch
06th Jun 2014 11:49

The proposed new offence

I have written an item in the Money Laundering & Crime discussion group which gives further details about the proposed new offence.

You can find the article HERE.

David

Thanks (0)
By LittleWhiteBull
06th Jun 2014 14:52

How about putting everybody in prison and upon release let them all claim benefits to live. Then what would happen is that all MPs, Judges, Court officials, Police, Crown Prosecution etc would all have to work harder to earn the money to keep people in prison and on benefits. This society is quickly becoming a joke. We accountants work very long, harduous hours eating into unsocial hours and this is the way we get treated. It is a pity Guy Fawkes is not around any longer!

 

Thanks (0)