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"Irresistible inference" - Proving Proceeds are the Benefit from Criminal Conduct



  1. When money laundering offences are included in the same indictment as the underlying crimes,
    • The underlying criminal conduct will be proved as part of the proceedings to the requisite standard;
    • And this should also provide the evidence required to prove the money laundering offence to the required standard.
  2. Where the money laundering proceedings are 'standalone', there are two ways of proving criminal property:
    • By proving the type of offending that gave rise to the criminal property, or
    • By relying on evidence that the circumstances in which the property was handled were such as to give rise to an

'…irresistible inference that it could only have been derived from crime' (R v Anwoir [2008] EWCA Crim 1354).


  1. Essentially Anwoir states that prosecutors are not required to prove that the property in question is the benefit of a particular or a specific act of criminal conduct because such an interpretation would restrict the operation of the legislation.
  2. The prosecution need, as a minimum, to produce sufficient circumstantial evidence or other evidence from which an "irresistible inference" can be drawn, to the required criminal standard, that the property in question has a criminal origin.
  3. In other words, there could be no reason for the circumstances other than a criminal one.

Triggers of an "irresistible inference

  1. Typically, evidence of the criminal origin of proceeds may be established by:
    • The unlikelihood of the property being of legitimate orgin

Where the prosecution proves D has no legitimate explanation for possessing the property in question, a jury may be willing to draw an inference that it is                     proceeds of crime (for example, if a large amount of cash is found in the home of someone with no visible means of support);

    • Complex audit trails;
    • Analysis of business accounts or audit records to show excessive or unexplained transactions or profits;
    • Circumstantial evidence.

This could be social media entries demonstrating a lavish lifestyle which is not supported by legitimate income, or

there could be messages and/or pictures stored on digital devices indicating the individual is in possession of high-value items (e.g. cars) which are not supported by legitimate income;

    • Accomplice evidence (for example, evidence provided by criminal associates usually as part of an assisting offender agreement);
    • Bad character evidence.

This would only be part of the evidential picture and would need to be supported but other evidence.

    • Large amounts of cash are concealed in property and vehicles.