Home Secretary Theresa May intends to set up the ‘illicit enrichment’ offence as part of a wider shake-up of measures to tackle money laundering. The new offence will be for cases where the assets of public officials increase without explanation.
Managing director of the National Estate Agency Association (NAEA), Mark Hayward, said: “We welcome the aggressive powers that the Home Office have proposed to tackle money laundering in the UK.
“The entry of corrupt money in the UK has a very real impact not just on the property market but also on the wider community when properties are left empty for long periods,” said Hayward.
“Changing the Suspicious Activity Reports system and the creation of unexplained wealth orders will put more of an onus on all professionals, such as estate agents, bankers and lawyers, to know whether someone’s wealth is genuine. And, importantly, if someone is unable to explain the source of their wealth they could be at risk of forfeiture.”
May said the economy was at risk of being “undermined” by illicit finance.
The proposals will go out for consultation for six weeks before being launched in the House of Commons and would see the civil courts given powers to hand out ‘unexplained wealth orders’.
“This is a good thing and we will work alongside other stakeholders such as the National Crime Agency to make it as effective as it can be,” said Hayward.