The Criminal Finances Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 22 February 2017 and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 9 March 2017. It completed its final stages in the House of Commons on 21 February 2017. The Bill would make provision to tackle money laundering and corruption, recover the proceeds of crime and counter terrorist financing. The Bill consists of four parts:
- Part 1 is divided into five chapters and would make several provisions to help the Government tackle financial crimes, such as money laundering. Chapter 1 would create Unexplained Wealth Orders that would require an individual suspected of involvement in, or association with, serious criminality to explain the origin of assets that appear to be disproportionate to their income. Chapter 1 would also allow disclosure orders—which are currently used to investigate fraud—to be used in money laundering investigations. Chapter 2 focuses on money laundering and would reform the Suspicious Activities Report regime. It also seeks to improve information sharing between entities in the ‘regulated sector’, for example banks, in order to combat money laundering. Chapter 3 would make provision in relation to civil recovery. It seeks to improve seizure and forfeiture powers, to allow the seizure of money stored in bank accounts and items of personal property, such as precious metals and jewels. The Bill would also provide for the civil recovery of assets belonging to those involved in or profiting from gross human rights violations. Chapters 4 and 5 relate to enforcement powers and a number of miscellaneous provisions.
- Part 2 would extend the measures in part 1—such as disclosure orders—to apply to terrorism investigations. It would also extend powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to civilian Counter Terrorism Financial Investigators employed by the police.
- Part 3 would create an offence of corporate failure to prevent tax evasion. If a person acting on behalf of a company criminally facilitates a tax evasion offence by another person, that company would be guilty of the offence, unless they could show reasonable measures were in place to prevent such activity.
- Part 4 would make a number of new minor and consequential amendments; financial provisions; and set out the territorial extent and commencement arrangements of the Bill’s provisions.