Most organised criminal activity is directly or indirectly aimed at making money. Money laundering is the process of concealing the source of obtained money. The ability to launder this money to prevent it being associated with criminal activity is a major concern for all organised crime groups. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication.
The particular threats to High Court Enforcement Officers
High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) are not regulated when it comes to money laundering. However, at The Sheriffs Office we believe it is best practice to adopt a stringent approach to tackling this issue.
In the enforcement industry it is not uncommon for a judgment debtor to settle their debt, or part of it, by paying an Enforcement Officer in cash.
Just the other day, a judgment debtor came into our office to settle their sizeable judgment debt. When they arrived, we noticed that they were carrying a holdall which was being rather closely guarded. When the holdall was opened it became clear why - it was full of thousands of pounds in cash!
How to check cash payments aren’t the proceeds of a crime
There are a number of steps an HCEO should take. While we’re not claiming to have a perfect process, we do believe ours is robust:
- Firstly we guarantee the necessary operational systems are adopted to handle this potential threat, which includes conducting a risk assessment on any case where a judgment debtor is settling a debt by paying in cash
- Then we follow the necessary due diligence check lists
- We make sure we know how the judgment debtor has obtained the funds – whether this is from a specific bank account, work bonus or the selling of other assets.
The training of all staff (in the office and Enforcement Officers on the road) is also key for all HCEO firms in this matter.
For example, we insist that our Enforcement Officers obtain identification documents from any individual who is paying a debt by cash. Anything deemed ‘suspicious’ is immediately flagged up to our Money Laundering Reporting Officer who will investigate all cases fully and (if necessary) refer matters to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
So what does all this mean for our company?
Money laundering is of course an on-going concern for all businesses and it is good and ethical practice to do all you can to prevent it, even if your industry is not regulated.
We believe that the systems we have implemented at The Sheriffs Office ensure - so far as we can reasonably guarantee! - that the monies we receive and process are genuine and not the proceeds of any criminal activity.