UK government proposes new offence of “illicit enrichment”

MPs, councillors and civil servants suspected of corruption are to be targeted by a new law proposed by the home secretary, Theresa May, who intends to establish an offence of "illicit enrichment" for cases where a public official's assets have increased significantly without satisfactory explanation.

Her new proposals - subject to a six-week consultation period being launched in the House of Commons later - plan to give the civil courts powers to impose new “unexplained wealth orders”. They would force suspected money launderers to declare their wealth, and those who fail to satisfy authorities will face having their property and cash seized.

Under the reforms a new administrative power to designate an entity as being “of money laundering concern” is also being considered. This would require those in the regulated sector - such as banks, legal and accountancy firms - to take special measures when dealing with them.

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