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The Proceeds of Crime (POCA)

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) is the legislative instrument that refers to the confiscation and recovery of the proceeds of crime. The provisions of the Act may be relevant to anyone facing questioning or criminal charges in relation to money laundering offences.

Ackroyd Legal is a leading London law firm with a dedicated team of criminal defence specialists. We have diverse knowledge and expertise in this complex area of the law; and will provide sound advice as well as robust representation when you need it. We are always non-judgemental in our approach, and it is quite likely that we will have already encountered a similar situation before.

A criminal conviction could have very serious consequences for you and your family, because all of your assets, property and financial security will come under scrutiny. It is therefore essential to have skilled and experienced legal representation at outset, in order to give you the best chance of reaching the most favourable outcome possible. Having the strongest possible defence can help to preserve your assets and therefore to safeguard your family in the future.

POCA gives the police and prosecuting authorities considerable powers in carrying out their investigations into your conduct and affairs, and as such, the investigations themselves can take a considerable period of time. Your accounts and assets can be frozen, as can those of your husband, wife, partner or business partner. You may also be prevented from selling, mortgaging or otherwise disposing of assets or property. You will need to show how you were legitimately able to afford various aspects of your lifestyle – and that of your family – such as property, cars and even holidays abroad. You may also be required under S.18 of POCA to submit a detailed explanation of how you were able to obtain assets such as finances or property.

Confiscation proceedings

Confiscation proceedings according to POCA may be initiated upon conviction, if there is a query over how much benefit has been received from the illegal activity, for example if it is alleged that assets have been hidden or secretly given away.

If you find yourself faced with confiscation proceedings, having experienced and reputable legal advice is very important, and the team at Ackroyd Legal will be able to advise you on the next steps and the best course of action in all of the circumstances. We will prepare your response and scrutinise all of the evidence, advising you on the strength of the case being made against you. We can also provide advice in relation to any third parties who may be caught up in the proceedings, for example if it is alleged that you have passed some of the relevant funds to someone else, such as a partner or business associate. Failure to comply with the terms of a confiscation order may result in the seizure of assets or even a prison sentence.

Restraint orders and freezing injunctions

Restraint orders or freezing injunctions may be imposed by the Crown Court. These can be applied to the assets of anyone on application by an investigative body, and as such you will be required to make a disclosure. This can also apply in relation to civil proceedings, in which case they would be imposed by the High Court with considerable consequences in relation to the assets that you hold. Restraint orders and freezing injunctions can effectively freeze your assets, preventing you from accessing these to pay your day-to-day costs and even pay for legal representation. A restraint order or freezing injunction can therefore have serious and potentially devastating consequences for you, your business and your family.

The specialist solicitors at Ackroyd Legal will provide legal advice, guidance and support throughout this process. If you are facing a restraint order or a freezing injunction it may be appropriate to apply for a variation or discharge of the order, and we can do this on your behalf, as well as offering ongoing advice on financial matters whilst your assets are frozen. Whatever the situation, we will be able to help, so please contact us for more information.

Civil Recovery Order

According to POCA, the National Crime Agency may apply to the High Court for a Civil Recovery Order, in order to recover assets from an individual or company that were unlawfully acquired. If you require assistance regarding such an application in relation to your activities, or if you would like more information on the law and practice relating to Civil Recovery Orders, please contact us as soon as possible.

Unexplained Wealth Order

An Unexplained Wealth Order may be granted by the High Court upon application by a state body such as the National Crime Agency or HMRC, in cases where it is suspected that an individual holds assets that could not have been obtained using income or lawful means. The granting of an Unexplained Wealth Order could result in a Property Freezing Order being imposed in relation to your assets.

Our expert solicitors can advise you on the full implications of a Property Freezing Order and submit an application for its discharge on your behalf. We will assist you in making your response to such an Order, and provide robust representation in your defence with a view to achieving the most favourable outcome for you and your family.

If you require legal advice regarding an application for an Unexplained Wealth Order or a Property Freezing Order, it is important to act quickly, so please contact us immediately, and we will be able to help you.

Cash forfeiture

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 provides that cash may be seized from an individual by the police or Border Force Officials. Cash forfeiture may occur if it is suspected that the money represents the proceeds of criminal activity, or that it is intended to be used for the purposes of illegal activity.

Once seized, the cash may be retained for a period of up to two years with an Order for Continued Detention, after which it will be either forfeited or returned.

The law surrounding cash forfeiture according to POCA is a complex area, and this can have a considerable impact on you and your family, depending on the amount of money that is detained. You will be notified that an application for cash forfeiture or detention has been made, and it is possible to object to and defend such an application. We will advise you on your legal rights and on the merits of challenging the application. We will also provide ongoing support and guidance as matters move forwards, preparing all the relevant evidence in relation to proceedings to oppose the detention of funds; as well as representing your interests before the Magistrates’ Court when the application is heard. Please contact us for more information on the law and practice relating to cash forfeiture, and we will be able to help.

Money laundering

Our team of business law experts are able to provide ongoing advice and support to our corporate clients regarding the law relating to money laundering, and we can advise you on your obligations and the financial regulations that are relevant to your business activities. If however something should go wrong, we will effect a swift response on your behalf, providing clear and straightforward advice as well as firm and robust representation, to help you to protect your interests, your business and your family.

Money laundering is a broad term that could cover a wide range of activities and even omissions. In 2002, the assent of POCA extended state powers over the assets and financial affairs of anyone implicated in a money laundering investigation. It is therefore essential to have highly skilled and experienced legal representation from outset if you find yourself in this situation. You may be charged solely with money laundering or you may face this charge in addition to something else, for example if you are also charged with fraud. Whatever the circumstances, having the right legal support will be crucial towards maximising the chances of achieving the most favourable outcome.

POCA provides that it is an offence to handle or otherwise deal with any assets that you know or suspect to be or to arise from the financial proceeds of criminal activity. It further provides that any suspicious activity must be reported to the National Crime Agency as Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). You will not be notified if your activities are the subject of a SAR, and for this reason you may find that your assets are frozen without warning, leaving you without access to funds for your business obligations, day-to-day expenses and even to meet your legal costs in dealing with the situation. If this should happen, it is important to act fast and seek specialist legal advice immediately, and the business crime defence specialists at Ackroyd Legal will be able to help you. If you would like to find out more about money laundering and the range of legal services that we offer, or if you require urgent assistance, please contact us, and a member of the team will be able to help you.

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