Time to confess

Unexplained wealth orders can now require non-UK and non-EEA individuals to prove the source of funds used to acquire an asset, explains Mala Kapacee

The UK is sometimes perceived as a country where criminals are able to launder money very easily, particularly through the purchase of real estate and particularly in London. In order to combat this perception, legislation was enacted in 2017 requiring individuals to demonstrate the source of funds used to acquire assets, if there ‘are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the known sources of the respondent’s lawfully obtained income would have been insufficient for the purposes of enabling the respondent to obtain the property’. This requirement is known as an unexplained wealth order (UWO). The legislation is contained in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 Part 1 and came into force in January 2018.