Unexplained Wealth Orders: How to catch the corrupt and corrupt money in the UK

Unexplained Wealth Orders: How to catch the corrupt and corrupt money in the UK

On 27 April the UK parliament passed an important provision of the Criminal Finance Bill that introduces a powerful new weapon into the anti-corruption arsenal: Unexplained Wealth Orders. This follows action already taken in Australia and Ireland.

The provision specifically targets red flag situations where a person buying expensive items, like property or jewels, doesn’t appear to be wealthy enough to make the purchase. It could be a politician in Russia or a small business owner in Brussels who buys a multi-million pound property in central London. If the person has links to serious crime or access to public money, then the authorities can act.

The UK law enforcement agencies can now use an Unexplained Wealth Order to investigate the source of that money, and, if it is found to be corrupt money, more easily return it to those from whom it has been stolen.

This is something that Transparency International UK and other anti-corruption groups in the UK have been working hard to bring about since the UK has been identified as one of the key destinations for corrupt money.

Here’s Duncan Hames from TI-UK explaining the importance of the new provisions.

In March 2017, Transparency International research identified London properties worth a total of £4.2billion (US$5.4 billion) that were bought by individuals with suspicious wealth.

Anti-corruption activists came together to push for this landmark resolution and won the support of members of parliament across the political spectrum. Now the law must be followed up with action.

Any law is only as good as its implementation and we now call on law enforcement agencies to use Unexplained Wealth Orders as soon as they are empowered to do so, and the next Government to ensure they are properly resourced. - Duncan Hames, head of policy at Transparency International UK

The team at TI UK were delighted when the Bill finally received Royal Assent in the UK Parliament on the night of 27 April.  

The use of Unexplained Wealth Orders in the UK originated following an Illicit Enrichment Taskforce convened by Transparency International in early 2014, that later published its findings here. In November 2016 our research found that a single house, owned by the Gaddafi family, was the only asset the UK had recovered from political elites of Arab Spring states.

Correction: This was updated to reflect the fact that the bill was not voted on but received Royal Assent and to correct the spelling of Gaddafi.
 

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

Latest

Support Transparency International

La Justicia española debe investigar el lavado de imagen de Azerbaiyán en Europa

Tres políticos españoles —Pedro Agramunt, Agustín Conde Bajén y Jordi Xuclá— se encuentran entre los delegados ante la Asamblea Parlamentaria del Consejo de Europa (APCE) sobre los que pesan sospechas de haberse beneficiado con la maniobra del “Laundromat”.

International Anti-Corruption Day 2018: The power of people’s pressure

Across the world, Transparency International chapters work hard to help the public become involved and engaged in the fight against corruption.

Clean up Spain – Justice for Azerbaijan’s reputation laundering in Europe

In Azerbaijan, critical voices are routinely suppressed. Meanwhile in Europe, politicians suspected of helping whitewash Azerbaijan’s record on human rights enjoy impunity. Join our campaign to urge authorities in Spain to investigate.

Everything you need to know about the 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference (#18IACC)

The #18IACC will take place from 22-24 October in Copenhagen, Denmark under the theme Together for Development, Peace and Security: Now is the Time to Act. Get the latest info and updates here!

Risky business: Europe’s golden visa programmes

Are EU Member States accepting too much risk in their investor migration schemes?

Future Against Corruption Award 2018

TI is calling on young people across the globe to join the anti-corruption movement. People between the age of 18 and 35 are invited to submit a short video clip presenting their idea on new ways to fight corruption. Three finalists will be invited to Berlin during the International Anti-Corruption Day festivities to be awarded with the Future Against Corruption Award.

The Azerbaijani Laundromat one year on: has justice been served?

In September last year, a massive leak of bank records from 2012 to 2014 showed that the ruling elite of Azerbaijan ran a $3 billion slush fund and an international money laundering scheme. One year on, has enough been done to hold those involved to account?

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media