The average prison time for money laundering offences rose to a record high of 27 months last year after the introduction of new sentencing guidelines, the Financial Times reports.
Research undertaken by Thomson Reuters showed that the average length of jail sentences for offenders convicted of money laundering had increased by 32 per cent in the past decade, from a term of 20.5 months in December 2000.
The increase comes in the wake of tougher sentencing guidelines introduced in 2014, which afford prosecutors more flexibility to argue for longer sentences for those convicted of bribery and money laundering.
Charles Thomson, partner at Baker McKenzie, said: “The new sentencing guidelines have opened the door for prosecutors to demand even longer sentences for the UK’s money launderers.
“It seems as though judges are more willing than ever to accept prosecutions’ cases that money-laundering offences deserve some of the harshest punishments available.”
In 2014, the Sentencing Council, which promotes consistency of sentencing in England and Wales, brought in new guidelines dealing with money laundering and bribery for the first time.
The new guidelines place a greater emphasis on the vulnerability of the victims and recommended harsher punishments for crimes where the financial loss is relatively small but the effect on the victim high.
The government has said it will crack down on the estimated £90 billion worth of “dirty money” coming into London, through powers such as freezing orders and unexplained wealth orders.