Money laundering
By Anthony Edwards, TV Edwards, London

The money laundering offences under sections 327-329 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) all require that 'criminal property' is involved with knowledge or suspicion that it is criminal property.

In R v Gabriel [2006] EWCA Crim 229, the Court of Appeal had to consider whether money honestly obtained in legitimate trading but which has not been disclosed for tax purposes was tainted by that failure to disclose. It decided that as the money was obtained honestly, the later failure to disclose could not turn it into 'criminal property'.

While in normal circumstances there must be knowledge or suspicion that criminal property is involved, the position is different when the prosecution alleges a conspiracy to launder money. Here, the defendants must actually know that the property was in fact the proceeds of crime, or if the property is unidentified intend that it should be. Mere suspicion is not enough in these circumstances (see R v Saik [2006] UKHL 18, [2006] Crim LR 998 (HL)).

In R v Da Silva [2007] Crim LR 77, the court had to consider how a jury should be directed on the meaning of the word 'suspect'. The case arose under section 93A(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 with the same considerations that will apply to POCA. A feeling of unease is not enough to lead to guilt for assisting another to retain the benefit of criminal conduct, knowing or suspecting someone to be so involved. It has to be a realisation that there was a possibility that was more than fanciful that the relevant facts existed.

However, it did not have to be a reasonable suspicion. There must be a settled suspicion and not just one that was considered and then honestly dismissed.