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No proceeds of crime? But you should have been suspicious! the legal duty to report ML in the UK


On 2 June, the CPS updated their guidance on when and how to prosecute money laundering offences.

The most significant change that they have made in their guidance is about section 330 of POCA

  • They will now follow a Scots Law decision called Ahmad v HM Advocate [2009] HCJAC 60.
  • Before this change, the CPS had interpreted the law differently following the House of Lords’ decision in R v Montila [2004] 1WLR 314The CPS will apply this change of position to any case where the failure to report a money laundering suspicion occurred on or after 2 June 2021.

The upshot of this change of position is that:

  • The CPS now considers that any person who fails to report a suspicion of money laundering will not be able to rely on a defence that, despite failing to report a suspicion, it turns out that there was no underlying money laundering offence that took place.

Or, to put it another way:

  • A mere failure to report a suspicion of money laundering or indeed a failure to report when reasonable grounds to suspect exist will render a person liable to prosecution and conviction.
  • Subject only to another defence, e.g. that the material was privileged within the meaning of s 330.

This is a really big change and I think it will lead to an increase in the numbers of prosecutions for failing to report under s 330.