Just to give you a breather after that last post, which taxed your brain cells, this time I am looking at the other end of the spectrum. I was watching “Look East” a few days ago, which is our local after-the-news news programme, and up popped a story about a drug dealer in Bedfordshire. Although a dab hand at the dealing, he was obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer, as he took his cash takings and buried them under the patio in plastic bags. And then, whiling away his time in prison, he became concerned that the bags might not be waterproof enough… So he asked his wife, mother and sister to dig it all up and hide it indoors. They were caught, and all three women are now serving time – for money laundering. “Surely not,” said my husband. “That’s not laundering – they didn’t do anything with the money.” After years – nay, decades – of listening to me describing complicated and dastardly laundering schemes, he had forgotten that the main laundering offence is that of “concealing” the proceeds of crime, which includes hiding it under the patio.
A second example was publicised last week, when the National Crime Agency announced the imprisonment for money laundering of two chaps who had hidden their dirty drug cash in, among other places, a chest of drawers. (Or, as they are known in my family, Chester drawers – my granny thought that’s where they came from.)
So yes, “concealing” can mean the use of the most highfalutin financial instruments by the most cunning professionals in the most secretive jurisdictions – or it can mean shoving it down the back of the sofa. PoCA will get you either way.
I had a case a while back in which the police had turned up at the defendant’s house with a search warrant. ‘Have you any cash in the house?’ asked the police. ‘Yes’, answered the defendant, ‘I keep it in the wall safe’. Actually rather a lot of cash – let’s not go into why this gent had a lot of cash.
He was done for ‘concealing’ criminal property in the safe, rather than merely ‘possessing’ it. Aficionados will recognise that ‘concealing’ is a ‘criminal lifestyle’ offence whereas ‘possessing’ is not.
That seemed a tad harsh to me.
This dosn’t surprise me at all! Law enforcement will always pick the easier legislative route even if it seems a tad unfair.
In my capacity as a private citerzen I do worry about s45 of SCA 2015 for example, seems quite broad even after the wording was changed. Law Enforcement me though thinks it will be very helpful piece of law.
This is why I write this blog, David. People think I’m doing it for others, but actually I am doing it for myself, so that I can learn a little more every day. I had not clocked the difference between concealing and possessing (apart from the actual meaning of the words), so that “criminal lifestyle” distinction is really helpful.
Best wishes from Susan
Along similar lines, Susan, if you were growing cannabis plants in your heated & insulated spare bedroom would you be ‘cultivating cannabis plants’ (contrary to s6 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971) or ‘producing a controlled drug’ (contrary to s4 MDA 1971)?
My bet is you would be charged with ‘producing’ because that is a ‘criminal lifestyle’ offence, whereas ‘cultivating’ is not. Just another legal curiosity!
I had many pleas to a crown prosecutor to charge production rather than cultivation so I could use the lifestyle assumptions. I had varying degrees of success.