Specialists in Serious Fraud and Complex Criminal Defence
Confiscations of Proceeds of Crime Solicitors
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 gave draconian powers to Police and HMRC Officers to confiscate the assets of individuals suspected of criminal activity. MPR Solicitors has a wealth of experience defending clients who have had their assets frozen or confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. We are a specialist practice, dealing almost exclusively with criminal defence, fraud and white-collar crime. As such, we have an in-depth knowledge in these areas of law.
To contact us regarding a proceeds of crime confiscation, please call our office on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment at our London office.
As a team, we a provide partner-led, quality, professional service. If your assets have been frozen, you, your business and family could suffer. You can trust us to provide expert advice and robust representation while supporting you throughout the investigation.
Our practice focuses on our core areas of law; therefore clients who instruct us can be confident of our in-depth knowledge and experience in confiscation law and proceeds of crime.. Our team has successfully defended cases involving cross-jurisdictional proceeds of crime accusations and asset freezing.
If you have had property confiscated from you under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, it is crucial that you take the investigation seriously and instruct quality, experienced money laundering solicitors to advise and represent you.
What is the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002?
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 provides for the confiscation or civil recovery of the proceeds of crime. It also contains the principle UK money laundering laws under Part VII.
What is considered as ‘proceeds of crime’?
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 allows the government to recover any money or assets gained as a result of or in connection with a criminal offence.
Luxury cars, homes, jewellery, watches, stocks and shares, valuable art and commercial property are examples of assets that have been seized by the police and other officials in recent years. In addition, if you have gained a job via deception, all the money earned can be considered a proceed of crime and therefore be confiscated.
Criminal property is defined as:
- Property which constitutes a person's benefit from criminal conduct or represents such a benefit (whether in whole or in part and whether directly or indirectly), and
- the alleged offender knows or suspects it represents such a benefit
The prosecution therefore must prove that the property is criminal property. Our solicitors have the experience required to prepare what can sometimes be complex cases to protect and safeguard the interests of our clients.
What should I do if my cash has been seized and/or assets restrained?
The process under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 can begin even before criminal charges are brought. For example, money can’t be seized and held by police or other public bodies such as the UK Border Agency, until it is proven that it is not derived from the proceeds of crime.
If you have had cash seized or cash detained under the Proceeds of Crime Act then it is crucial to contact us immediately or following the first application for continued detention. We will then be able to assist you in securing the return of the monies.
In more serious cases, for example, if you are under investigation for fraud or other serious criminal offences, or already facing charges, authorities can apply to have your assets, including your bank account frozen under a Restraint Order. If this happens, you will be unable to access your funds, instead you will be provided with a weekly allowance. In addition, you will be unable to sell or deal with your assets, such as your property and/or vehicles.
Authorities also have the power to freeze your assets in foreign jurisdictions.
Restraint orders are usually made ex parte, meaning you will receive no notice that an application to freeze your assets has been made to the court. The authority applying to the court to freeze your assets must satisfy the test set out under section 40(2) of the Proceeds of Crime Act, namely: a criminal investigation has been launched and there is reasonable cause to believe that the alleged offender has benefited from his criminal conduct.
There must also be a real ‘risk of dissipation’ of the assets.
If the decision to freeze your assets has been made ex parte, we can immediately apply to the court to have the order dismissed or varied.
There are several ways we can challenge a freezing injunction, including:
- the prosecution did not make a full disclosure to the judge making the freezing order
- there is no solid evidence that the assets are at ‘risk of dissipation’, especially in the case of a worldwide freezing order
In R v B  1 Cr App R 14 Moses LJ stated:
"There can be no justification for such a restraint unless the prosecution establish that there is a real risk that assets will be dissipated which might otherwise meet a confiscation order should there be a conviction."
We understand how these defences work and can quickly put together a solid case aimed at having the freezing order varied or quashed.
What is a confiscation hearing?
A confiscation hearing can be brought if you have been convicted of an offence and have made a benefit. A benefit is not always the same as profit or financial gain.
There are three legitimate aims of confiscation, namely to:
- punish convicted offenders
- deter the commission of further offences, and
- reduce the profits available to fund further criminal enterprises
The prosecution can sometimes ask a court to make what are known as ‘statutory assumptions’ in cases which involve ‘criminal lifestyle’ of if the conviction is for a lifestyle offence to determine if a person has benefited from criminal conduct and the amount of that benefit. These assumptions can be quite harsh and include:
- Any property held transferred to a defendant after the relevant date was obtained by them because of his general criminal conduct;
- Any property held at any time after conviction was obtained as a result of general criminal conduct;
- Any expenditure incurred by a defendant at any time after the relevant date was met from property obtained by them because of their general criminal conduct;
- For the purposes of valuing any property obtained by the defendant that they did so free of any other interests.
Other complications can arise from third party interests in property and in particular the matrimonial home. This is something which our confiscation lawyers will be able to advise you on.
Another issue which sometimes arises is the prosecution asserts what can be called ‘tainted gifts’. Sometimes these can be sales at an ‘undervalue’.
The biggest problem area that is commonly encountered is when no identifiable assets are located the prosecution, or the court can raise the issue of ‘hidden assets’. This is of significance as in confiscation proceedings it is for a defendant to prove to the court’s satisfaction that his assets or available amount are less than the benefit which has been determined. A defendant will need to prove that he does not have any ‘hidden assets’.
We will help you in the preparation of your case to deal with these issues which will arise in confiscation cases.
To contact our confiscation of the proceeds of crime solicitors in complete confidence, please call 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.
Our lawyers help you to keep your assets.