Proceeds Of Crime Auctioned Off
South Yorkshire Police and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are organising an auction next week of jewellery seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, in a bid to claw back some of the £26m a man and his associates made through tax evasion. The jewellery, which was seized at the time of the man’s arrest, includes designer watches, diamond rings and even a solid gold baby’s dummy. However, once he was convicted, the police and HMRC could use the Act to get some of the money back.
Under the terms of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, convicted criminals are not allowed to profit from their crimes, so the courts bring in forensic accountants to determine which assets have been acquired legitimately and which ones were funded by illegal activity. The forensic accountants’ work in this field mirrors the work they undertake in any form of investigation; they go through bank and credit card statements and look at the lifestyle of the individual to see whether such items could have been afforded on the money he or she said they were earning at the time of the purchase.
They would also interview associates and anyone else who might be able to help. For example if an item of jewellery had been a gift, then they would need to speak to whoever made the gift to rule it out of the equation. The Act can also be used to take money from criminals by seizing and selling their assets even if those assets are legally held. Again, forensic accountants would be used to value the criminal’s assets, such as houses, vehicles and bank accountants, and then a Crown Court would issue a Confiscation Order for that amount, which must be paid within a certain time or the criminal faces a longer jail term.
Author: Roger Isaacs – 14 March 2014
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