Every few months I indulge myself in a little daydream of doing a PhD in criminology. Like all good daydreams, it’s rich in lovely feelings – imagine sitting in the library all day, thinking deep thoughts about money laundering, breaking off occasionally to have a cheese scone in the tea-room – and poor in detail. I have no idea which aspect of money laundering would actually bear close examination for three years and – more importantly – I know that I would both hate and be useless at the statistical side of things. Maths and I have learned to tolerate each other, but we are not natural playmates. In this spirit, I bring you some money laundering-y numbers, recently published by the UK’s Solicitor-General in response to a question from an MP.
- In 2017, there were 878 prosecutions in England and Wales under s327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act – concealing, etc. Of these, 537 led to convictions – or 61.2%. [For comparison, the overall conviction rate in 2017 across all crimes and all courts in England and Wales was 86%.]
- In the same year, there were 288 prosecutions under s328 – arrangements – leading to 225 convictions (78.1%).
- In the same year, there were 737 prosecutions under s329 – acquisition, use and possession – leading to 581 convictions (78.8%).
- And in the same year, there was one prosecution under s330 – failure to disclose: regulated sector – leading to one conviction (go on – you can do this one in your head).
The Solicitor-General gives a bit of background explanation: “The figures given relate to defendants for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.” In most cases the money laundering conviction is going to attract the stiffest penalty, so these numbers are pretty much representative of action taken in the criminal courts against money laundering. As for what to read into them, well, you’ll need to ask a PhD student.