April 28

الأحكام المتعلقة بالثراء غير المفسر

الأحكام المتعلقة بالثراء غير المفسر
 (Unexplained Wealth Orders)
ما وراء الخطاب

يظهر بدء تطبيق نظام الأحكام المتعلقة بالثراء غير المفسر(UWO) والذي سيتم تنفيذه للمرة الأولى ضد ممتلكات في لندن يملكها شخص متورط سياسيا (Politically Exposed Person)، رغبة السلطات البريطانية  بإرسال رسالة واضحة مفادها أنها لم تعد مستعدة لإيواء ممتلكات أولئك الذين  ينهبون ثروات بلادهم ويجنون ثمار ممارسات إجرامية. يعكس دونالد توون، مدير وحدة الجريمة الاقتصادية في الوكالة الوطنية لمكافحة الجريمة، هذا الموقف الرسمي من خلال تصريحاته التي أكد من خلالها هذا الموقف قائلا: “إننا عازمون على استخدام كل الصلاحيات الممنوحة لنا لمكافحة تدفق الأموال غير المشروعة إلى المملكة المتحدة أو عبرها”

حكم الثراء غير المفسر UWO هو حكم تصدره المحكمة العليا  عندما تستلم “طلب تنفيذ”  من سلطة تنفيذية  Enforcement Authority ضد شخص “المدعى عليه” ليقدم تفاصيلا عن كيفية تمويله للممتلكات التي اقتناها في المملكة المتحدة. للحصول على حكم مثل هذا يجب توافر ثلاثة شروط:

  1. أن تكون قيمة ممتلكات الشخص المعني أكثر من 50 ألف جنيه استرليني.
  2. أن تكون المصادر المالية القانونية المعروفة التي يمتلكها المدعى عليه غير كافية لجعله قادرا على اقتناء ممتلكات من هذا النوع.
  3. أن يكون الشخص المعني، إما شخصا متورطا سياسياPolitically Exposed Person، أو أن يكون هو أو الأشخاص الذين على علاقة به قد تورطوا بأعمال إجرامية خطيرة في أي مكان في العالم.

ومن الجدير بالذكر ،ومما سيثير حتما الذعر لدى الفاسدين ومرتكبي الجرائم المنظمة،  اتساع نطاق التعاريف ونطاق التطبيق المستخدم في هذه الشروط ،على سبيل المثال:

  • شخص متورط سياسيا لا تعني فقط مسؤولي الحكومات الأجنبية وإنما تتضمن عائلاتهم وهؤلاء المرتبطين بهم ارتباطا وثيقا وكذلك مدراء الشركات ذات التمويل الحكومي.
  • مستوى الدليل يقف عند تواجد “شك منطقي” فقط وليس يحتاج لأدلة من مستوى أعلى من هذا.
  • يمثل الحد المعلن بـ 50 ألف جنيه استرليني قيمة الممتلكات المستهدفة فقط وليس قيمة حصة المدعى عليه في هذه الممتلكات.
  • بالإمكان إصدار أحكام الثراء غير المفسر دون الإشعار المسبق وبالإمكان أن يرافقها طلب تجميد إن كان هناك تخوف من إمكانية الهروب.
  • ولا تقتصر صلاحية التنفيذ Authority على النيابة العامة  Crown Prosecution Service وإنما تتضمن أيضا مصلحة الضرائب HR Revenue & Customs, والوكالة الوطنية للجريمة National Crime Agency، وهيئة الممارسات المالية Financial Conduct Authority، ومكتب مكافحة الاحتيال الخطير Serious Fraud Office.
وتعتبر الأحكام المتعلقة بالثراء غير المفسر UWO اجراءات مدنية ضد الممتلكات وليست ضد الأشخاص لذا بالإمكان على سبيل المثال إصدار حكم من هذا النوع ضد عقارات تقع في بريطانيا يملكها مدعى عليه مقيم خارج بريطانيا.
وإن تم فعلا تطبيق هذه الأحكام والاستمرار في إصدارها بما يعكس رغبة جدية بتفعيلها لتتجاوز التصريحات والأجندات السياسية، ستمثل هذه الأحكام وسيلة للتصدي للسمعة السلبية التي تعاني منها بريطانيا عموما ولندن خصوصا بأنها مغناطيس للأموال العالمية “غير النظيفة”.
April 5

Unexplained Wealth Orders – The force behind the rhetoric

With the recent coming into force of the Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO) regime and with its first application against the London real estate of a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), the British authorities appear eager to send out a message that the UK is no longer willing to accommodate the assets of those who plundered the wealth of their nations, and those seeking to reap the benefits of criminal behaviour. Donald Toon, the Director of Economic Crime at the National Crime Agency, captures the official position by confirming that “we are determined to use all of the powers available to us to combat the flow of illicit monies into, or through, the UK.

A UWO is an Order issued by the High Court on the application of an (“Enforcement Authority”) for a person (“respondent”) to provide details of how they have financed their acquisition of assets in the UK. For such an Order to be granted, three conditions must be met:

  1. The value of the respondent’s target property is over £50,000; and
  2. The known lawful resources of the respondent are insufficient for the respondent to acquire such property’; and
  3. Either (i) the respondent is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP); or
    (ii) the respondent or persons connected to the respondent have engaged in serious criminal activity anywhere in the world

What is noteworthy about these conditions, and perhaps most worrying for kleptocrats and organised criminals, is the width of some of its definitions and applications; for example:

  • A PEP includes not only foreign government officials, but also their families and those closely associated to them, as well as directors of state sponsored companies.
  • The standard of proof is only one of “reasonable suspicion” and not any higher
  • The £50,000 is the value of the target property and not the respondent’s interest in it
  • A UWO can be made without notice and can be accompanied by a freezing order, if there is a risk of flight.
  • A UWO can be issued even against those properties acquired before the UWO regime came into force
  • An Enforcement Authority is not limited to the Crown Prosecution Service but also includes HM Revenue & Customs, National Crime Agency, Financial Conduct Authority, Serious Fraud Office.

It is also worthy of note that UWOs are civil measures laid against properties and not against individuals, and so they can, for example, be issued against the UK located assets of a foreign based respondent.

If the early flurry of activity outlasts the initial political rhetoric, UWOs my well be what is needed to counter the reputation of Britain, and London in particular, as a magnet for “dirty” international money.

July 10

Treasury Licences for Assets under Sanctions

 

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Applying for a treasury license to use assets under sanctions can prove a key move forward for states, sovereign wealth funds and individuals

The UK’s HM Treasury operates a range of financial sanctions that take effect against a “designated person”. This can be an individuals or entities – such as an organisation, company or group. Those designated persons (‘sanctions targets’) are listed in a “Consolidated List” published by the Treasury.

Financial sanctions invariably include asset freezing measures – these mean that funds are frozen by the bank or other institutions involved. Unless licensed by the Treasury a designated person can neither access those funds nor can they be paid or given funds or economic resources. It’s a criminal offence to knowingly – or with reasonable cause to suspect – make funds available to a designated person directly or indirectly.

If a person (whether a designated person or not) needs a licence – for example to make or receive a payment that is blocked by UK financial sanctions – one apply to the Treasury with fully prepared papers giving all relevant information, full details of the transaction and supporting documentation.

The licence can exempt certain transactions from the restrictions of the asset freeze.
Generally there are two sorts of licence:

1. General licences. These are available to every potential beneficiary subject to whatever terms or conditions apply under the sanctions regime concerned; so a general licence allows every transaction, or category of transaction, that is described in the licence to be lawful, whoever the persons who are engaging in them.

2. Individual or specific licences. These are granted to specific parties, and may permit specific transactions or types of spending for example.

Licences can be granted for a range of purposes and may include the allowing the release of frozen funds to pay obligations due by the designated person under a contract entered into prior to their listing, to meet bank charges, to cover basic household or business expenses and reasonable legal costs.

Licences can also allow other arrangements to permit transactions and protect third parties who are not sanctions targets – for example to allow staff salaries to be paid, to allow humanitarian transactions, and to allow the assets of designated persons to be safeguarded and managed.

When considering whether to issue a licence, the Treasury will have regard to the policy objectives of the relevant regime.

Licence applications should be submitted at least four weeks before the licence is needed. Licence applications are dealt with as quickly as possible by the Treasury but do not guarantee that licences will be issued within four weeks of an application being received. There is no charge made by the Treasury to issue a financial sanctions licence.

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MS-Legal can safely store the granted licence and produce it for inspection to banks or other parties to a transaction who may ask to see a copy of the licence.
Licences are issued in the light of the known facts of a particular case. The Treasury may amend a licence where the circumstances change or new types of transaction are contemplated.

The Treasury will usually provide an explanation for any decision to refuse a licence and will reconsider refusals if there are new facts. Where a licence is not granted, the transaction concerned cannot legally proceed.

Our experience in dealing with the application process is that it can take between 4 to 6 weeks for the Treasury to consider the application and grant the licence.