Split personalities
Confiscation Order

Confiscation proceedings can be complex when the respondent has many bank and credit card accounts. This case involved some 7 properties, 36 bank accounts, and 28 credit card accounts, but had the added complication that they were held by the respondent and his wife in many different names, occasionally in their own. Unlike Lord Eddie Davenport they did not pretend to be members of the aristocracy; instead they adopted names suggestive of wealth and status. This seems to have impressed banks and lawyers for at least six years, and the Crown’s initial calculation of the respondent’s benefit from crime exceeded £2 million. The available amount was stated to be more than £1 million, so there was a pot of gold worth pursuing. The respondent asserted that he had been an antiques dealer in the USA in the 1990’s and that he had returned to the UK with a cash mountain that he invested in property. These properties, if not initially purchased under a false name, were often transferred between his aliases, and those of his wife, sometimes for financial consideration and sometimes “for love favour and affection”. On one occasion his wife took out a mortgage to purchase a property from one of his aliases and the mortgage funds were, in effect, transferred into an offshore account. Jersey and the Isle of Man were favourite destinations for cash. When his defence solicitors visited the Land Registry they not only found properties that were not in the Crown calculations, but yet more aliases. Deep digging unearthed more dirt. Despite having the gift of the gab, the respondent struggled for any legitimate explanations for his accumulated wealth, and the benefit from crime was always going to exceed the available amount. Some of the money was held in offshore bank accounts where a penalty of over 20% would be charged to repatriate funds into the UK. However, somewhat surprisingly, some funds did seem untainted by criminality, despite being held in false names in offshore accounts. This allowed the Crown and the defence to negotiate on the basis of part of the funds being removed from the available amount. In the event, some £100,000 was removed on the grounds that this belonged to his wife and was not a tainted gift. However, how one recovers funds known to be held in false names from offshore jurisdictions is another matter.