Section 337: Protected disclosures
491.Section 337 exempts a person who receives information in the course of his trade, profession, business or employment from any legal or other obligations that would otherwise prevent him from making disclosures to the authorities. The protection extends not just to the regulated sector which is required to make disclosures in order to avoid committing an offence under section 330, but also to those carrying out any trade, profession, business or employment, even if this is not in the regulated sector, who voluntarily make disclosures about money laundering to the police. This includes those exercising a profession in a voluntary capacity such as accountants or solicitors giving free advice. It does not, however, mean that they become subject to the failure to disclose offence at section 330. Although it should be noted that if they are a nominated officer working outside the regulated sector, they will be subject to the offence of "Failure to disclose: other nominated officers" at section 332.
492.The protection provided by section 337 is very wide, consistent with the United Kingdom’s obligations under Article 9 of the 1991 European Community Directive on prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering.
Section 338: Authorised disclosures
493.Section 338 sets out the circumstances in which a disclosure will be ‘authorised’ for the purposes of affording a defence to the principal money laundering offences in sections 327 to 329. Where a disclosure is ‘authorised’ for these purposes, then it is not to be taken to breach any rule which would otherwise restrict that disclosure.
494.This is necessary because, in the course of their business, those working inside or outside the regulated sector may need to complete a transaction that they know or suspect could constitute one of the three principal money laundering offences. This section gives them the means of obtaining the authorisation necessary to complete the transaction, if the disclosure is made before a transaction is completed; or provides a defence against the failure to disclose offence if the disclosure is made as soon as possible after the transaction has taken place and there was a good reason not to make it before.
Section 339: Form and manner of disclosures
495.This section provides an order making power that enables the Secretary of State to prescribe the form and manner in which a disclosure must be made under sections 330, 331, 332 and 338.
496.The prescribed form may include a request to the person making the disclosure to provide additional information in support of the disclosure/suspicious transaction report. The information requested, by virtue of subsection (3) must be information that would be necessary to enable the authorities to decide whether to start a money laundering investigation. Additionally, by virtue of subsection (4) any information supplied is given immunity from any restriction on the disclosure of information such as confidentiality clauses in contracts and the law of confidence. It is important to note that no offence is committed if the person making the disclosure does not supply the additional information.