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Man Compelled to Divulge Source of Funding for Luxury Home

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For the first time the National Crime Agency has secured an Unexplained Wealth Order in Northern Ireland against a man suspected of involvement in serious organised crime, including alleged links to a paramilitary organisation.

In UK (United Kingdom) law money laundering is defined in the Proceeds of Crimes Act 2002 (POCA) and includes all forms of handling or possessing criminal property, including possessing the proceeds of one’s own crime, and facilitating any handling or possession of criminal property. 

Gambling Commission Concerns Over Funding of Terrorism 

An order was made at the High Court in Belfast on Friday, May 17, compelling the husband and wife to explain the source of funds used to construct a property in County Armagh worth approximately £275,000. 

Investigators believed that the man, who is resident in Northern Ireland, has connections to criminal organisations involved in cigarette smuggling and money laundering including a paramilitary group.

The Gambling Commission, which regulates gambling activities at casino destinations and online casinos, stated: “We have a duty to ensure that adequate controls are in place to prevent gambling businesses being used for money laundering and terrorist financing purposes.” 

Take Down of EncroChat and Successful Ops Have Penetrated Organised Crime Groups 

EncroChat was the preferred tool of choice for organised crime groups, but it was in 2020 following the efforts of a joint investigation team (JIT) supported by Eurojust and Europol. Close to EUR 900 million in criminal funds have been seized or frozen with 6 558 arrests worldwide. 

JIT Stats Highlight Successes 

Several operations have also been launched to tackle money laundering in the UK. 

Operation Venetic has been the UK’s deepest ever penetration of organised crime groups. 

It has resulted in:

  • more than 1,600 offenders convicted
  • more than 3,300 arrests have been made
  • more than 2,000 suspects charged in the UK
  • over 10,700 years of sentences given to offenders
  • drugs seizures of six-and-a-half tonnes of cocaine
  • more than three tonnes of heroin 
  • over twenty tonnes of cannabis
  • one-hundred-and-seventy-three firearms taken off UK streets
  • almost 3,500 rounds of ammunition
  • more than £84m seized from organised crime groups
  • over 200 threats to life were averted

The operations by multi-agency groups signals a message for those who might consider getting involved in crime of any sort, from compliance failings in customer checks to record keeping and identifying risk, to people smuggling and money laundering. 

The impressive list of many organisations working against criminal activity include:

  • HMRC
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants 
  • Gambling Commission 
  • International Association of Bookkeepers 
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW 
  • Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) 
  • Law Society of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland (LSNI) 
  • Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) 
  • Council for Licensed Conveyancers 

The work being carried out as part of on-going work by the UK’s anti-money laundering regulatory bodies to combat criminal activity will continue and be successful. 

Referring to the case in Northern Ireland, Suzanne Foster, Head of Asset Denial at the NCA, said: “This is a significant milestone in the fight against criminal finance in Northern Ireland. 

“With the first Unexplained Wealth Order granted here, we continue to show that the NCA will use all the tools available to us to target those we believe are involved in serious crime, whoever and wherever they are. 

“To get to this stage we have had to overcome significant legal challenges, and we can now continue to investigate the source of these funds.” 

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