Under POCA, criminal conduct includes all conduct that would constitute a criminal offense in any part of the UK, or that would constitute an offense in the UK if it had occurred there. Therefore, generally speaking, where the predicate criminal activity occurs abroad, it is generally no defense to assert that the conduct was lawful abroad.1
A limited defense applies to a person who knows (or has reasonable grounds to believe) that the criminal conduct occurred in a country outside the UK and was not a criminal offense in that country provided that, had the conduct occurred in the UK, the conduct would constitute a criminal offense with a maximum sentence of no more than one year’s imprisonment. This defense is of limited application in practice because most predicate offenses to money laundering, such as fraud, bribery, and theft, carry a maximum sentence in excess of one year’s imprisonment.2
1 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, c. 29, § 340(2) (UK).
2 Proceeds of Crime Act Order 2006, Money Laundering: Exceptions to Overseas Conduct Defense.