Public awareness of white-collar crime has come to the fore in recent years and the Government is under ever-greater pressure to put a stop to corrupt practices. This year, the biggest crime agencies are being audited to determine their effectiveness and will consequently be cracking down on corporate wrongdoing and corruption, bringing the UK’s treatment of white-collar crime more closely in line with the tough approach seen over in the US.
What’s more, the Government has outlined further new offences that are currently being considered for implementation. The new Criminal Finances Bill is also being fast tracked into law, currently making its way through the House of Lords: the third reading of the proposals is due to take place on the 25th April. This will give the authorities greater powers to seize assets, punish those further up the chain of economic crime, as well as new powers to tackle overseas offenders.
The US-style proposals take the form of ‘vicarious liability’ and ‘failure to prevent’ offences and will have the power to make employers guilty through the actions of their staff. The date that these proposed offences will come into law is currently not known, but employers must be mindful and seek advice on how best to be prepared for these changes.
What is White-Collar Crime?
By definition, white-collar crime is non-violent, financially motivated crime committed by professionals or those in positions of power. The term encompasses a wide variety of offences ranging from Fraud (and its many variants) to Insider Trading, Embezzlement, Bribery and Corruption, and Money Laundering.
White-collar crime is not just the reserve of those who run businesses or work for large companies. Offences such as Tax Evasion, Mortgage Fraud, laundering the proceeds of crime and many more can be associated with private individuals and can carry significant punishments for those who are caught out.
Who are the authorities?
The responsibility of fighting white-collar crime falls to a number of Government agencies, each presiding over different areas of the economy. The following organisations are being audited this year and are likely to be flexing their muscles in response:
- Serious Fraud Office
Duty to investigate and prosecute serious or complex fraud and corruption. The office has historically had rocky relationship with the Prime Minister, who has tried to axe the department in the past.
- National Crime Agency
Tasked with fighting serious and organised crime, the National Crime Agency is also responsible for dealing with reports of wrongdoing filed by banks.
- Financial Conduct Authority
The industry-funded organisation responsible for regulating the financial services sector.
- Competition & Markets Authority
This Government organisation works to promote competition and fairness in the market for the benefit of consumers, and prevent anti-competitive activities.
- HM Revenue & Customs
The organisation everyone is all too familiar with! Overseen by the Treasury, HMRC is in charge of the administration and collection of taxes as well as the payment of several forms of state support and other regulatory responsibilities.
How can Gepp & Sons help?
Covering all aspects of Business Law, our team of highly experienced solicitors are well placed to provide practical legal advice for individuals and businesses regarding white-collar crime. From supporting your business in compliance matters to providing expert legal representation if you are facing investigation or court, Gepp & Sons offers a comprehensive legal service with your best interests at heart.
To find out more about how Gepp & Sons can assist you in matters of white-collar crime, get in touch with our team on 01245 493939 or send us an enquiry via our website.