Since the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) in 2002, there has been a surge in confiscation proceedings.
Prior to this, confiscation proceedings were limited to the powers under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the Drug Trafficking Act 1994.
POCA extended the confiscation powers to financial crime and this gives the courts wide ranging powers to confiscate assets and to make ‘assumptions’ as to how certain assets have been obtained.
If an asset is deemed to be the benefit of criminal conduct then potentially it could be confiscated. The court then looks to find out what assets are held and the value of those assets. A confiscation order can be made in the sum of the benefit of criminal conduct or the sum of the available amount whichever figure is the lower.
If this sum remains unpaid then a term of imprisonment can be imposed for non-payment. POCA has also introduced a series of criminal offences relating to money laundering.
Confiscation proceedings only take place after someone has been convicted of an offence. More often than not the Prosecuting authority will take the view that the offences involved constitute a ‘criminal lifestyle’ under the Act.
This can be done if the offence was said to have taken place over a period of six months or more. The Court can consider any items or acquisitions from the 6 years preceding the date of the commencement of the proceedings. The Court is then entitled to assume that any transaction within that period is the proceeds of crime and it is up to the defendant to prove that it this is not the case.
The Prosecution’s view of the benefit of crime is however open to scrutiny and can be challenged. Our expert Tax Investigation team can use forensic accountancy expertise to scrutinise the figures meticulously and mount a challenge if we deem that they are inaccurate.
We have an outstanding track record for successfully challenging POCA benefits and obtaining a reduction in the sum payable.
If you are facing a POCA confiscation order you need to week urgent, expert advice. Please contact us now.