Sections 32: Customer Information
93.Sections 32 and 33 implement the provisions of Article 1 of the 2001 Protocol in relation to incoming requests to provide information about bank accounts in the UK relating to a person who is the subject of an investigation in a participating country.
94.Section 32 applies where the Secretary of State receives such a request and authorises him to direct the appropriate police or customs officer to apply for a customer information order. A customer information order requires a financial institution specified in the application to provide details of any accounts held by the person who is the subject of an investigation into serious criminal conduct as defined in section 46(3). Subsection (6) provides that the definition of customer information in section 364 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”) has effect to the extent specified. The scope of the 2001 Protocol is different to that of POCA, however, which is restricted to confiscation or money laundering investigations. In practice, the power will largely be used in relation to these types of investigations, but it may also be exercised in relation to other investigations into serious criminal conduct. Subsection (8) provides that information obtained should be returned to the Secretary of State for forwarding to the overseas authority which made the request. This is different to the procedure in section 19 of the Act which provides that, in general, evidence should be returned by direct channels. Transmission of information about banking transactions via the Secretary of State will enable effective monitoring of this new measure.