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With an economic crime bill set to become a reality, Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli considers some of the main issues it could address

Author: Niall Hearty  15 February 2022

Just a week after refusing to confirm or deny any such plans, the UK government has stated it will introduce an economic crime bill in the coming year.

The announcement comes after the resignation of former government minister Lord Theodore Agnew, who was highly critical of what he called the government’s “lamentable’’ attempts to tackle financial crime.

The new legislation is expected to include stronger anti-money laundering rules and revised regulations regarding the formation of UK-based companies.

There is little doubt that there has been a demand for such legislation. Politicians from all political parties have said they believe that major change is needed to prevent the UK attracting even more “dirty money’’ from around the world. There have been calls for much greater transparency regarding beneficial ownership of companies, as well as for a revision of the UK’s whistleblower protections and a new approach to corporate criminal liability. 

The issue of corporate liability has prompted widespread discussion in recent years. Those calling for a fresh look at it have included Serious Fraud Office Director Lisa Osofsky. Many have said the current need to prove that those carrying out the wrongdoing were the “directing mind and will” of the company makes it overly difficult to successfully prosecute corporates. This, it has been argued, favours larger companies whose complex structures can make it difficult to determine who is the directing mind and will.

Twelve years ago, the Law Commission said there was no need for reform in this area. It has since revised that opinion and, in the coming months, is due to present the government with an assessment of different options for reform of the law around corporate criminal liability.

But while reform may appear to be inevitable when it comes to economic crime, there is the possibility that any such change could prompt further debate and disagreement.

This article originally featured on Mondaq, it can be read here.

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Niall has a wealth of corporate crime expertise and an ability to coordinate global bribery and corruption cases. His achievements in such investigations have made him a logical choice for corporate clients.

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