Dismantling organised crime groups through enforcement of the POCA money laundering offences

Published date05 January 2010
Date05 January 2010
AuthorKenneth Murray
Subject MatterAccounting & finance
Dismantling organised crime
groups through enforcement of the
POCA money laundering offences
Kenneth Murray
Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency, Paisley, UK
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess the challenges of proving criminality in money
laundering cases and the extent to which forensic accountancy within law enforcement can assist in
meeting them.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper reviews the development of relevant case law; and
considers legal viewpoints on the use of forensic accountancy evidence in court.
Findings – The use of forensic accountancy within law enforcement provides a means of enabling
Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) achieve the results it was enacted to achieve.
Research limitations/implications A more resilient attitude to financial complexity is required
on the part of prosecutors if complexity is not to continue to succeed as a method of rendering serious
financial crime immune to prosecution.
Social implications The money laundering provisions of POCA are enacted to provide a means of
prosecuting the leaders and professional enablers of organised crime groups who benefitted from
crime but were able to divorce themselves from the actual crimes committed on their behalf. The
failure of POCA to effectively deliver on this objective undermines its authority and reputation and
thereby reduces hope in the communities that are vulnerable to organised crime.
Originality/value – The use of forensic accountancy within law enforcement is a new initiative.
This paper sets out the need for such an initiative and it can make a significant contribution in the
fight against organised crime.
Keywords Money laundering,Law enforcement, Accountancy, Scotland
Paper type Viewpoint
It has taken the Courts seven years in Scotland (and six in England), to ratify decisively
one of the key objectives of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The relevant cases have now established the principle that proving the criminality
of criminal proceeds can be achieved by reference to the way in which the money is
handled. This paper argues that the full potential of POCA 2002 in the fight against
Organised Crime is now capable of being realised through pro-active money
laundering investigation but that this may require the forging of new attitudes in both
Law Enforcement and the Prosecution authorities.
Prior to the enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), a charge of money
laundering in Scotland required reference to a specified predicate offence. The terms
of that act removed that requirement but there was still the major residual issue of
how you proved that money suspected of being laundered was criminal property.
The working assumption in practice was that there still a need for some reference to a
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
It should be noted that the views expressed in this paper are the views of the author alone and
should not be taken as being those of the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency.
organised crime
Journal of Money Laundering Control
Vol. 13 No. 1, 2010
pp. 7-14
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/13685201011010173

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