The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) has greatly strengthened the government’s hand in recovering money or assets that derive from criminal conduct. POCA provides the relevant powers for the authorities to impose Restraint Orders with a view to freezing a person’s assets pending investigation and/or prosecution. In the event of a conviction, confiscation proceedings will almost inevitably follow.
Restraint Orders are a standard feature of fraud and financial crime cases. They are served on a recipient without notice and have immediate effect which can be devastating to any person who has commitments to receive and pay out monies from his or her bank accounts.
We are nearly always successful in raising the amount of living expenses that a person is allowed under an existing Restraint Order. We also routinely obtain concessions to allow a person’s bill payments (whatever they are for) to continue as they did before the order was imposed.
We are skilled at advising clients as to when it is possible to challenge a Restraint Order and have it discharged. Alternatively, we can apply to have its scope limited so that it causes the minimum disruption to a client’s business or personal life.
POCA also enables investigators to seize cash that they believe is derived from criminal conduct. The police frequently seize cash that they find when searching a home or even a business premises and they often apply to the court for forfeiture. We are able to give expert advice on the recovery of such cash and on many occasions we have successfully opposed applications for forfeiture.