The CPS updated its Guidance on Money Laundering Offences on 2 June 2021.  The updated guidance clarifies the new CPS approach to section section 330 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), which now requires individuals working in the regulated sector to report suspected money laundering - regardless of whether money laundering was actually planned or had taken place. 

Section 330 makes it an offence for a person in the regulated sector (who knows, suspects, or has reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting, that another person is engaged in money laundering) to fail to report such knowledge or suspicion to a money laundering reporting officer or the National Crime Agency.  Prior to this update, the CPS did not charge under section 330 where there was insufficient evidence to establish that money laundering was planned or had taken place.  The updated Guidance now makes clear that, from 2 June 2021 onwards, the CPS approach is that a person in the regulated sector will commit an offence if they fail to make a report under section 330, regardless of whether the money laundering in question can actually be proven, or indeed whether it did in fact occur.

The Guidance is not explicit as to the reason for this change in approach, although it appears to rely on a 2009 interpretation of the legislation by the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland.  The practical impact for individuals in the regulated sector is clear: those who know or suspect money laundering (or have reasonable grounds for the same) must report it or face the risk of prosecution.  It is therefore more important than ever that those working in the regulated sector remain alert to potential money laundering activity and report any suspicion promptly.  The only saving grace is that this new approach is not retrospective.

This update was co-written by Ben Powell.