We advise individuals and businesses at every stage, including how to avoid civil proceedings and how to challenge an asset forfeiture order if required.
Civil Proceedings and Asset Forfeiture
How can my assets be seized or forfeited?
There are a number of tools available to law enforcement agencies to seize or forfeit an individual or company’s assets.
The Proceeds of Crime Act (“POCA”) provides the police and other law enforcement agencies the ability to freeze, restrain and seize assets when they suspect criminal activity.
The Criminal Finance Act 2017, introduced more recently, provides for the power to both freeze and if appropriate forfeit, bank accounts.
Finally, there are unexplained wealth orders (UWO), which are obtained in secret and without notice. These orders force the subject to respond to detailed questions in circumstances where a failure to respond will lead to a criminal presumption that the property is the proceeds of crime.
Critically, these powers enable the applicable agencies to freeze and secure assets without requiring a criminal conviction.
Why am I being targeted?
The UK government is increasingly introducing legislation giving the authorities ever more powers to freeze and confiscate assets.
Further, we are also witnessing banks progressively adopting a more risk-averse approach. They are increasingly unexpectedly freezing and closing individuals’ accounts.
If an enforcement agency suspects an individual or business of partaking in criminal activity such as money laundering or bribery and corruption or making money by illegal means, it can apply for an order to seize or forfeit assets. Further, if a bank suspects similar, it can also apply for orders to freeze or close your bank account.
If you are concerned by any of the above, or for more information about us and our Criminal Litigation, Investigations and Regulatory services, please contact a member of the team who will be able to assist.