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Money laundering, what is it and what are the laws about it in the UK? Our fraud solicitor answers

26 July 2021


Whether you are the CEO of a multinational company or an owner of a small shop, nobody wants to be accused of money laundering.

And, in the UK, it can be quite tricky to know what activities can cause suspicions surrounding this area; could you inadvertently be doing things daily that may cause HMRC to suspect you of this serious offence?

At ABV Solicitors, we believe in educating our clients so they know how to avoid being caught up in legal jargon and investigations. Our fraud solicitor will always advise you on how to keep all of your transactions as clear as possible, so HMRC has no reason to investigate you or your company for fraud, evasion or money laundering. Now that’s good legal advice!

So, back to the original point; what constitutes money laundering, what different types are there and what are the penalties that surround it in the UK? Our fraud solicitor answers below.

What is money laundering?

If you have seen a famous movie involving Wall Street and a person known as a wolf, you will probably have a vague idea of what money laundering is.

In the UK, it is a term used to explain illegally earned gains that are then masqueraded as legitimate money earned by a company or person. Most commonly, the activities surrounding money laundering involve drug-related activities, theft or fraud.

This is where our fraud solicitor comes in. If you are being accused of money laundering, we have expertise in representing this area and can help you.

What types are there?

There are many types of money laundering under UK law, so to save time, we will focus on the common ones.

  • Structuring – in simple terms, this involves a bulk sum being broken down into smaller amounts and deposited into different accounts; this could be personal accounts, business or expense accounts. This, in theory, makes this money harder to track as it can appear to be money earned and placed into these accounts via daily activities.
  • Trade-based – this is a newer form and is a bit more complicated.

As businesses become digital and more people become freelancers or self-employed, invoices are becoming more common. And as such, many illegal activities in a company may involve the overestimating of invoices of staff to disguise the movement of illegally obtained money. This is why it is important to keep copies of staff invoices and financial records.

What are the penalties for it in 2021?

In 2021, if you are found guilty of money laundering, depending on the severity, you can face up to 14 years of detainment (prison time).

Your company or business is also likely to face a substantial fine of indeterminate value (once again, linked to the severity and activities). Please note, that the 14-year sentence is the maximum amount for the money laundering offence alone; if you are found to be guilty of another offence that led to money laundering, you may have another sentence and fine on top of these charges.

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