David Gauke MP, the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, yesterday announced the establishment of a new specialist financial crime unit to focus on targeting bank accounts associated with criminals and prisoners.
This forms part of the Government's broad ramping up of anti-money laundering initiatives, such as the expanding use of Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), on which we recently commented.
In particular, this new specialist financial crime unit will make use of powers to freeze bank accounts. Mr Gauke delivered this message when announcing the new unit:
"...we are already blocking your phones, putting you in isolation and now we will make sure you can't access your money."
As the Government and law enforcement agencies become more adept and more familiar with tactics such as these, we can expect to see a growth in the use of freezing orders across all areas of the fight against financial crime - for example in connection with UWOs. It remains to be seen just how common and streamlined the use of freezing orders and powers to freeze bank accounts actually become.
"…transactions, which amount to money laundering, are to be targeted by the unit, who will be able to freeze bank accounts and initiate criminal proceedings against those involved"