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30 Apr 2018

David Corker comments on the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and UWOs in GIR

The Criminal Finances Act (CFA), which became law in April 2017, introduced Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), which enable authorities such as the SFO and the NCA to compel targets to explain how they obtained their assets, and a provision that holds companies liable for failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.

Speaking at GIR Live Question Time at the 4th annual conference in London, David Corker said that while the Criminal Finances Act’s (CFA) provisions about Unexplained Wealth Orders and the new offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion have grabbed the headlines, it’s another section that’s worth looking out for.

He said that litigation will focus on section 16 of the CFA, which allows authorities such as the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) to ask a magistrate to freeze assets if there are reasonable grounds to suspect money held in a local bank is intended for unlawful conduct.

Corker added: “It offers an easy means by which law enforcement can freeze and potentially seize enormous sums of money,” he said.

“Understandably, a lot of the attention on this act is centered on UWOs and the facilitation of tax evasion offence, but that really misses the point,” Corker said.

Corker said that the two offences will rarely be prosecuted because the provisions are “largely symbolic”.

Read the full article in GIR here