News & what's on - Written by on Sunday, August 21, 2011 23:56 - 2 Comments

Internet shopping & POCA

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We’re talking about shopping (whistleblowing) crooks, not a new e-commerce site to blow ill gotten gains on…

Convictions last week, meetings at No. 10 imminent and the Director of the SFO has encouraged the use of Twitter to report bribery.

Meanwhile in India ipaidabribe.com has spawned a number of copycat websites, including in China, whose raison d’etre is to expose bribery.

As you may have guessed we are big exponents of the internet.  While we would not want to overstate it – its relevance in the context of anti-corruption, directly and indirectly, is growing with both enforcement agencies and citizens using it as a medium.

Last week, the Lothian and Borders Police in Scotland took it one stage further.

We asked our colleague Stacy Keen, in our Glasgow office, to investigate.

By Stacy Keen, Pinsent Masons Glasgow

Last week the Lothian and Borders Police launched the “Made from Crime” initiative, encouraging the public to report those who profit from the proceeds of crime through Facebook or via Bluetooth.

The first POCA initiative of its kind Scotland, Lothian and Borders Police’s initiative has the backing of the Scottish Government and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (“COPFS”).  We have written about COPFS before here.

The initiative will allow internet users to report suspected criminals, anonymously if they wish, using social media and other online networking tools to link direct to the Crimestoppers UK website.  Lothian and Borders Police have followed the approach of the New York police department and the Hanover police department in Germany, both of which have Facebook crime-reporting sites.

Solicitor General for Scotland, Lesley Thomson QC, said: “We have vast powers available to us through the Proceeds of Crime legislation and I am delighted that this new initiative will allow people to use social media to report anonymously those who they see flaunting ill-gotten gains before them.  COPFS will continue to take a robust approach to anyone who chooses to fund their lifestyle through crime – and we will use every power available to us as prosecutors to seize their assets and disrupt their activities.”

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said “We have the legislation in place to seize criminals’ ill-gotten gains and ensure they are brought to justice. With the public’s help, our streets can be made safer for all.”

Social networking sites are likely to welcome being used as a crime fighting tool (as opposed to a mechanism for fuelling crime) following the bad press they received during the riots in England last week.

One thing for sure is that criminals benefiting financially from the proceeds of crime, whether from bribery or corruption offences, violence or drug dealing, should avoid uploading pictures of their ill-gotten gains online.  Criminals in Scotland are just one click away from being reported to the authorities…

Will the initiative be followed in the UK and will the SFO ‘like’ the new Scottish approach?

Watch this space…

 

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James Vine (@JamesPSVine)
Aug 22, 2011 0:04

Morning all.

At a tangent slightly, but do we think that “carrying on business in the UK” includes having a business related internet link anywhere in the world accessible from the UK?

Maybe I shall include the idea in MY next blog, so don’t nick it!

In the meantime, here’s the latest. http://thebungblog.wordpress.com/

James

Barry & Richard
Aug 22, 2011 2:37

Personally we think “a business related internet link anywhere in the world accessible from the UK?” is a bit of a stretch as that would cover – the whole internet…so no we don’t think an internet site should in any sane interpretation of the phrase extend as far as that…!

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