R v Saik [2006] UKHL 18

Conspiracy – Intention –Money Laundering - Knowledge

Facts

The defendant, Saik, operated a bureau de change near Marble Arch in London.  Saik changed money that had been gained as proceeds of crime into foreign currency.  Whilst he did not know for sure that the money he was changing was obtained from the proceeds of crime, he suspected that it was.  He was charged with conspiracy to launder money contrary to s93C (2) Criminal Justice Act 1988. At trial Saik pleaded guilty subject to the qualification that he did not know that the money was proceeds of crime.  This was then appealed with Saik arguing that although suspicion to launder money was the sufficient mens rea to commit the offence of money laundering under s93C (2) Criminal Justice Act 1988, it was not sufficient for the crime of conspiracy.

Issue

Does the offence of conspiracy require proof of an intention to carry out an intended act or is the mens rea of the underlying offence sufficient for a conspiracy to exist?

Held

Saik’s appeal was allowed.  Whilst the substantive offence of money laundering could be carried out by the defendant having reasonable suspicion that the money was a proceed of crime, a conspiracy, under s1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977 requires the parties to form an agreement which they intend will result in the commission of a crime.  Conspiracy requires its own mental element which is that the parties will intend or know and this mental element subsumes any lesser standard such as suspicion which may be necessary for the underlying substantive offence.  In other words, to be guilty of conspiracy, the defendant and at least one other party must intend every element of the underlying offence.

Conspiracy to launder money could only exist where the parties knew that the property to be dealt with was the proceeds of crime.