The Offences

The Offences

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) sets out a number of offences, all of which can result in a prison sentence or a fine. These comprise:


  • the principal money laundering offences
  • the failure to disclose offence
  • the tipping off and prejudicing a money laundering investigation offences

In this Topic, we will review each of the different types of offences under POCA, as well as those under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Principal money laundering offences

It is a criminal offence to

  • conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove any criminal property from the UK
  • enter into or become concerned in an arrangement which you know or suspect facilitates the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property
  • acquire, use or possess criminal property

These offences are punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment and apply to everybody, not just those executing financial transactions, but also those working in law firms, banks or accountancy practices and other Financial Services organisations.

People working in these professions need to take special care so they do not leave themselves open to committing a principal money laundering offence.


The Failure to Disclose an offence

It is a criminal offence to fail to report circumstances where:

  • you know or suspect that another person or entity is engaged in money laundering
  • that knowledge or suspicion came to you in the course of business in the regulated sector
  • it is reasonable to believe that the information may assist in identifying the suspect or the whereabouts of the laundered property

Failing to report suspicious circumstances includes actual knowledge of money laundering, but also:

  • turning a blind eye
  • a deliberate failure to enquire

The failure to disclose offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment.