New offence will curb crime profits

A new offence of ‘participation in an organised crime group’ can now help ensure professionals who profit from crime can be brought to justice.

The new rules, announced in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, mean they can no longer claim ignorance of their clients’ activities as a defence against prosecution.

It could cover anyone who has assisted the criminals, from people who write legal contracts for criminals, to those who provide them with courier services.

People convicted of ignoring the activities of criminals who are paying them could receive up to five years in jail.

Minister for Organised Crime, Karen Bradley, said: “Nobody is above the law, but for too long corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals have tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability.

“This new offence sends out a clear message to those individuals: if you are helping to oil the wheels of organised crime, you will be prosecuted and face being jailed.”

The new legislation will also increase custodial sentences for the non-return of illegally acquired assets and stops illegal gains from being put in spouses names.

The legislation will be published in the next few days and will be contained in one of two Home Office Bills covering the final session of this Parliament.

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