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Corporate Crime analysis: As the Serious Crime Bill winds its way through the legislative process, Laura Dunseath, senior associate, and Barry Vitou, partner and head of global corporate crime, at Pinsent Masons LLP consider the implications of the Bill and how it fits in with the Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy.
Serious Crime Bill [HL], LNB News 09/06/2014 29
On 5 June 2014 the Serious Crime Bill was introduced to the House of Lords. This Bill is intended to give effect to a number of legislative proposals in the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy.
The government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy included a number of statements about the causes, effects and methodology of organised crime including that:
‘Criminals will seek to launder money through the financial sector, or use the services of lawyers or accountants to invest in property or set up front businesses. A small number of complicit or negligent professional enablers, such as bankers, lawyers and accountants can act as gatekeepers between organised criminals and the legitimate economy.’ (para 5.20, Serious and Organised Crime Strategy)
This principle led to the most significant feature of the Serious Crime Bill from a corporate crime perspective, which is the ‘participation offence’ at clause 44 of the amended Bill. The offence is designed to target the professional and non-professional ‘enablers’ who facilitate the criminal enterprises of organised crime groups.
The Home Office has argued that the offence is required to pursue those in organised crime groups who ‘ask no questions’ and support organised crime at arm’s length. The Home Office has stated that the offence is designed to supplement the existing conspiracy offence as the ‘second tier’ of an investigation, and contend that it is significantly different to the existing offences of encouraging and assisting crime contained in the Serious Crime Act 2007, ss 44–46.
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