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Unexplained Wealth

Member: Nifa

As the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal rumbles on, the Government is announcing a series of moves to crack down on corruption. One proposal is for a register of beneficial ownership, which will force offshore firms buying UK property to reveal their ultimate owners. Another is the unveiling of a series of aggressive powers aimed at tackling money laundering, which will include a new “unexplained wealth order”.

Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO) are currently used in criminal cases when the investigating authorities believe that assets are the result of criminal activity and aim to deprive prevent criminals from acquiring or benefitting from them. Unexplained wealth is also seen as a warning signal that people might be involved in fraudulent activity, often in the workplace.

When an individual is suspected of fraud or other financial wrongdoing, forensic accountants are often brought in to get to the bottom of the situation. Many people think that, as they are accountants, all they will do is look at the finances but that is not the case.

Of course, the figures tell an expert a great deal and forensic accountants can see things that many others might miss. However, they will investigate every aspect of a case and one red flag is ‘unexplained wealth’. This could be anything from the purchase of a car the suspect shouldn’t be able to afford to lavish spending. This sort of activity will often be the source of conversation amongst colleagues and the forensic investigator will interview associates to find out if the pattern of spending has changed and when.

They will also pore over emails, telephone call transcripts and any other form of communication they can find to gather evidence of where this unexplained wealth came from. Of course, it could be perfectly above board, such as from a bequest or a lottery win but either way, the forensic accountant will pin down its source.

For advice on how Milsted Langdon’s forensic accountants can assist you, please contact us today.

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