Unexplained Wealth Orders in the Criminal Finances Act 2017

Judge Malcolm Simmons

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 creates “Unexplained Wealth Orders”.

 An Unexplained Wealth Order is an investigative tool which can be used by law enforcement agencies in connection with High Court Civil Recovery, which falls under Part 5 of POCA. The Unexplained Wealth Order will precede a potential Civil Recovery application and can be obtained from a High Court Judge, without a suspect having prior knowledge.

 The Order can be applied for in England and Wales by the National Crime Agency, HMRC, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Serious Fraud Office or the Crown Prosecution Service.

 A person who is suspected of involvement in or association with serious criminality must explain the origin of any asset with a value in excess of £50,000 that appears to be disproportionate to their known or declared income. 

 A failure to provide a response would give rise to a presumption that the asset in question is the product of crime and may be frozen in order to assist any subsequent civil recovery action. If frozen property is found not to be a proceed of crime the owner of the asset may be entitled to compensation.

 An individual may be convicted of a criminal offence if they make false or misleading statements in response to an Unexplained Wealth Order.