Transparency International UK Releases Discussion Paper on the Recovery of Corrupt Assets in the U.K.
In May 2015, Transparency International UK ("TI-UK") released Empowering the UK to Recover Corrupt Assets: Unexplained Wealth Orders and other new approaches to illicit enrichment and asset recovery, a discussion paper that addresses the ongoing problem of the laundering of corrupt wealth through the U.K. According to TI-UK, a large amount of corrupt wealth, stolen from around the world, is invested in the U.K. Very few suspicious transactions and assets related to corruption, however, have been frozen by the British government. TI-UK states that in 2014 alone, U.K. law enforcement authorities were able to act on only seven reports of suspicious financial transactions identified as possibly linked to international corruption. After assessing the various asset recovery methods available to U.K. law enforcement authorities, TI-UK recommends that they be given the power to serve Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO), a civil asset recovery tool used by law enforcement authorities in Ireland, Australia, and Columbia. Suspects issued an UWO would be required to establish that suspicious U.K. assets or transactions had legitimate and legal sources. An UWO could be issued without the government first alleging a crime against the suspect. A refusal to respond to an UWO or an inadequate response could be used by law enforcement authorities to facilitate a civil recovery process against the asset. TI-UK believes that this new power would allow U.K. enforcement authorities to begin acting on corrupt assets immediately and addresses what the organization believes is the most significant weakness in the U.K.'s asset recovery approach, "the over reliance on a conviction in the origin state."