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REUTERS |

Earlier this week, the National Crime Agency (NCA) published the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) Annual Report for 2017, which covered 18 months between October 2015 and March 2017. SARS are received by the United Kingdom Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU). Unsurprisingly, UKFIU has continued to experience a year on year increase in the number of SARs received. The next report is likely to be more interesting, given the significant number of developments scheduled to the “anti-money laundering” provisions in 2017-18. Continue reading

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The criminal offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion comes into force on 30 September 2017. The offence is the second “failure to prevent” offence, although a consultation on further offences was launched in early 2017. The offence is similar to section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, which introduced the corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery. The offences are effectively strict liability, in that no mens rea is required on the part of those representing the corporation. Both offences also have similar defences, although described as “prevention” rather than “adequate” procedures for the tax offence. In more than six years there has not been a contested prosecution of the section 7 Bribery Act offence, which raises the question of how many prosecutions will occur under the Criminal Finances Act 2017? Continue reading

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Statistics for the first quarter of 2017 show a record low in the number facing prosecution but record high in number of convictions. Fraud, which has not previously been counted in the annual crimes recorded figures is now the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales, with 3.4 million incidents in the year ending March 2017 (for more information see: Police Force Area crime statistics published). Over half of these (57%, 1.9 million incidents) were cyber-related. For more information, see National Audit Office confirm fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in England & Wales.

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The news that Big Ben will cease to ring following the chimes at noon on Monday 21 August was met with opposition from both MPs and the media. The restoration project has been planned since 2015 and details of the project approved by three parliamentary committees. Part of these plans include silencing the bell until 2021 while the restoration work takes place with exceptions being made for special occasions such as Remembrance Sunday and  New Year’s Eve.  Continue reading

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There has been much confusion and misreporting about corporate manslaughter in the last 24 hours. To correct some common misunderstandings, and in the light of the Lord Chancellor’s  plans for a greater public understanding of the legal system, here are some facts on corporate manslaughter prosecutions in England and Wales.  Continue reading

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This week saw the publication of two reports: a joint report from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and HM Inspector of Constabulary, and The Mouncher Investigation Report by Richard Horwell QC, both highly critical of the way the police and the CPS handle disclosure, and calling for significant change.

Many criminal practitioners will feel a strong sense of déjà vu when reading another report detailing the various failings of the disclosure process. In 2013, the DPP published a report by HMCPSI into serious failings in the disclosure process that led to a miscarriage of justice in R v Mouncher. A decade earlier, a number of prosecutions brought by HM Customs & Excise were overturned when customs officers deliberately withheld information that a critical prosecution witness was a registered informant in the infamous LCB prosecutions.  A common theme in the failings seems to be some police officers and prosecutors treating the disclosure process as some form of side issue, rather than a vital part of the criminal justice system. Continue reading

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Somewhat discreetly, as reported in CivilServiceWorld, the government has suggested that its plan to abolish the Serious Fraud Office has been put on hold. The 2017 Conservative manifesto committed to disbanding the SFO and incorporating its responsibilities into the National Crime Agency.  This was a decision not well received by practically every practitioner and commentator, including the former Chancellor George Osbourne, who dedicated the lead editorial in the Evening Standard to  setting out the reasons for retaining the organisation.   The reasons to save the SFO as expressed by business crime practitioners were covered in detail in Blog, Ten reasons to save the SFO.

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To mark the anniversary of the referendum on leaving the EU, Thomson Reuters planned another Legal Debate. The motion for this debate in the successful series was Post Brexit: Tax haven status will make Britain great again!

The debate promised controversial views and lively argument from accomplished speakers. For many, tax havens conjure headlines of scandal, money laundering and corruption, but could this be a viable path for the UK to take following a hard Brexit? In the time between arranging the debate and the date it was held, the political landscape had changed significantly and the intervening general election reduced the mandate for a hard Brexit. Continue reading

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The Conservative Party has published its 2017 Manifesto, entitled “Forward together: Our plan for a stronger Britain and a prosperous future”. The manifesto includes a commitment to strengthen Britain’s response to white collar crime by incorporating the Serious Fraud Office into the National Crime Agency, improving intelligence sharing and bolstering the investigation of serious fraud, money laundering and financial crime.

There are numerous reasons to be critical of this commitment. The top ten are: Continue reading