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

Delia Ferreira Rubio elected Chair of Transparency International

At Transparency International’s Annual Membership meeting on 15 October, Delia Ferreira Rubio was elected chair and Rueben Lifuka was elected as vice-chair, along with seven new board members.

How to keep desperately needed humanitarian aid out of the hands of the corrupt

Around the globe, tens of millions of people need humanitarian assistance from governments, humanitarian aid agencies, and the UN, but even when lives are at stake and people at their most vulnerable, corruption and other abuses are not uncommon.

How the IMF can have real impact on fighting corruption

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is meeting in Washington DC this week. We want to send a strong message about what the multi-lateral lender can do to have greater impact on fighting corruption.

The impact of the Azerbaijani Laundromat

Since the story of the Azerbaijani Laundromat broke, Transparency International has been following up on the allegations and, along with OCCRP, calling for action to hold to account the politicians, businesses and intermediaries who were named in this complex money-for-influence scandal.

Corrupción en ascenso en América Latina y el Caribe

Conversamos con más de 22.000 personas en 20 países en América Latina y el Caribe sobre corrupción. Tomando en cuenta el tamaño estimado de la población de estos países, eso significa que alrededor de 90 millones de personas pagaron sobornos.

Corruption on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean

Transparency International asked more than 22,000 people in Latin America and the Caribbean about corruption in their daily lives. The survey also looks at how institutions are perceived and how corruption has been developing in each country.

Sustainable Development Goals turn two: time to ensure justice for all

September 25, 2017 marks the two-year anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Transparency International highlights the need for governments to set meaningful targets for success.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world