Financial Crime

What is Confiscation?

What is Confiscation?

At its most simple, Confiscation is the process by which those convicted of a crime are deprived of their benefit from that crime.

So, for example, Jill steals £10,000 from her employer and spends it on a luxury holiday.

Her proceeds from that crime (referred to as the 'benefit') is £10,000, so she can expect a confiscation order to be made in that sum.

That sounds fair

Well, it does sound ok on the face of it, but it is a little more complicated than that. The £10,000 from the confiscation order will not go to the employer; it will go to the state.

But the Court may also make a compensation order in the sum of £10,000 to repay the employer for their loss.

So, Jill will have to pay £20,000?

Quite possibly.

That's unfair!

It can get a whole lot worse!

For example, Paul steals a Porsche worth £130,000 but a few hours later he is stopped by the police, the car is recovered, and it is returned to its owner.

The 'benefit' here is £130,000 (the value of the car), even though the car has been returned.

That's bizarre!

Yes, it is. The examples above are all from real cases, and while the result outlined above does not always follow, the starting point is that confiscation is 'draconian and intended to be draconian'.

Certain convictions trigger what are known as ‘lifestyle provisions’ which means that your finances going back many years will be subject to investigation – unless you can establish that the income was lawfully obtained, the monies will be at risk of being added to the ‘benefit’ figure.

I haven't got any money, so I don't care

Sure, but the benefit figure will still be determined, and if for example, you come into some money at a later date (for example an inheritance or pension), the prosecution can seek to take that money from you. Any property of value can be seized in order to satisfy a confiscation order, and if the court believes that you can pay the order, and you fail to do so, you can be sent to prison in default.

It all sounds rather complicated

It is, and we haven't even mentioned gifts, hidden assets, corporate veils and A1P1 considerations.

Often the real punishment felt by an offender is not the headline sentence but the financial penalty that flows from a confiscation order.

The rules are incredibly complicated, and we often find fundamental errors and assumptions being made by financial investigators. Basic errors can result in wrongful calculations amounting to many tens of thousands of pounds.

In some cases, we can argue that the making of a confiscation order is so disproportionate that to do so would be unlawful.

So, before entrusting your case to any other solicitor ensure that they are up to speed not only on the basics of the offence with which you have been charged, but also in relation to confiscation.

If you need assistance with any criminal law matter, then please contact me on +44(0)7766001774 or email: contact@crimelawyer.co.uk 

 

 

National Anti-Corruption Strategy

UK Anti-Corruption Update

On 11 December 2017 the UK's Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, released a statement addressing the government's economic crime strategy. This addressed, amongst other things, money laundering enforcement and the future of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). She produced the following written ministerial statement:

Economic crime and corruption do great harm to individuals, businesses, the integrity of our financial system and the UK’s international reputation. We must do more on economic crime to safeguard our prosperity, and the UK’s reputation as a world-leading place to do business.

The Government are making a step change in their response to the threat. A broad and deep public-private partnership is at the heart of this new approach. The Minister of State for Security will become the Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime. Further, the Government will:

  • Establish a new Ministerial Economic Crime Strategic Board chaired by the Home Secretary, to agree strategic priorities across Government;
  • Ensure resources are allocated to deliver those priorities; and scrutinise performance and impact against the economic crime threat.
  • Create a new multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) hosted in the National Crime Agency to task and co-ordinate the law enforcement response, working in the closest possible partnership with the private sector.
  • Create a dedicated team to use the power in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 to forfeit criminal money held in suspended bank accounts.
  • Legislate to give the National Crime Agency powers to directly task the Serious Fraud Office, who will continue to operate as an independent organisation.
  • Publish draft legislation on the creation of a register of the beneficial ownership of overseas companies and other entities that own property in the UK or participate in Government contracts.
  • Reform of the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime, in partnership with the private sector, law enforcement and regulators, to reduce tick-box compliance, direct the regime to focus on the highest threats, help firms better protect themselves and improve law enforcement outcomes.
  • Review disclosure procedures to explore how to make prosecutorial processes more effective and efficient. The Attorney General will lead this work.
  • Support a Law Commission review of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to identify improvements to our powers to confiscate proceeds of crime.

In addition, the Government are today publishing the UK’s first cross-Government anti-corruption strategy, and the Prime Minister has appointed John Penrose MP as her Anti-Corruption Champion. A copy will be available from www.gov.uk, and placed in the House Library.

The strategy provides a framework to guide UK Government efforts against corruption both domestically and internationally for the period up to 2022. It sets six priorities to:

  1. Reduce the insider threat in high risk domestic sectors (ports and borders, prisons, policing, defence);
  2. Strengthen the integrity of the UK as a centre of global finance; promote integrity across the public and private sectors;
  3. Reduce corruption in public procurement and grants;
  4. Improve the business environment globally; and work with other countries to combat corruption.

There will be ministerial oversight of implementation and my Department will provide an annual written update to Parliament on progress.

To support the delivery of these commitments, responsibility for the Joint Anti-Corruption Unit will transfer from the Cabinet Office to the Home Office. This change will be effective immediately.