ATHIF SARWAR V HER MAJESTY’S ADVOCATE

Today at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh Athif Sarwar had his conviction for money laundering quashed.

The appellant was convicted after trial on two charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (in effect of “money laundering”).  He was the managing director of a company (United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd) which during the period of the charges (February to April 2003) carried on a wholesale cash and carry business on the south side of Glasgow.  It was not in dispute at the trial that monies which had been the proceeds of crime (by others) had been passed through United’s business.  What was principally in dispute was whether the appellant personally knew or suspected that these monies were the proceeds of crime. 

At the trial the appellant contended that there was insufficient evidence in law that the appellant had such knowledge or suspicion.  The trial judge rejected that contention and the case went to the jury, which convicted the appellant on both charges.  In the appeal the appellant contended that the trial judge’s decision was erroneous.  The appeal court has accepted that contention. 

This has implications not only for the first charge but also for the second charge which, the appeal court has decided, the jury must have approached on an erroneous basis.  The appeal has accordingly succeeded, the conviction on each charge being quashed.

The full Opinion of the court can be found here:  http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2011HCJAC13.html

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