The defendant in this case along with one other was charged with a number of counts of converting set top boxes. Then using them as articles in the use for fraud. The prosecution alleged that as a direct result of this criminal activity the defendant had benefited by converting these amounts resulting in the serious charge of converting, transfer of criminal property in contribution of section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to the value of over £250,000. If convicted the defendant was looking at a lengthy custodial sentence. As a result of Ashmans attention to detail in this complex case which involved substantial computer evidence.
We along with the expert barrister instructed managed to get the more substantial charge dropped. This therefore resulted in receiving a custodial sentence being mitigated even further. Prior to the sentence hearing we prepared a lengthy mitigation statement to be used by the instructed barrister which further identified flaws in the prosecutions opening. By utilising the lengthy mitigation statement, the instructed barrister brought all these matters to the attention of the sentencing Judge. After the lengthy mitigation the defendant received a suspended sentence. We are wholeheartedly sure that had such attention not been given to this complex case the difference in sentencing may well have been vast.
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section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
The principal money laundering offences in sections 327 to 329 of POCA are very broadly worded and in essence prohibit doing anything with assets, including merely possessing them, where such assets are or represent the “proceeds of crime”. Assets include money and “pecuniary advantages”. It should be noted that the offences are committed where the person dealing with the assets either knows or even merely suspects their criminal origin (which makes them “criminal property” for the purposes of POCA).
Under a recent controversial Court of Appeal case, the UK courts decided they have universal jurisdiction to try any allegation of money laundering wherever and by whomever it is said to have been committed. Later sections of POCA create offences specific to the regulated sector, which is also subject to requirements under MLR, for instance to perform “Anti Money Laundering” (AML), Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and “Know Your Customer” (KYC) procedures, especially where there are considered to be heightened risks including the involvement of “Politically Exposed Persons” (PEPs). The effect of this is that banks, accountants and others are obliged to research their customers and submit a suspicious activity report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency (NCA) where there is a “reasonable cause” for suspicion, or face criminal sanctions in default. Importantly, POCA also criminalises “tipping off” the subject of a SAR and prejudicing any investigation into them.