Man ordered to forfeit almost £117,000 following introduction of new legislation

Wed 20th, Jun

A man from Ipswich has been made subject to what is believed to be the country’s first ever account forfeiture order, after new legislation was introduced earlier this year.

The 40-year-old mechanic was made subject to the order following a hearing at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court this morning (Tuesday, 19 June) which means police can seize almost £117,000 from his bank account. Legislation was introduced under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) in March 2018 to allow police officers new powers in relation to the freezing and forfeiture of money which is suspected to be derived from criminal activity. The powers are civil, which means there is a lower burden of proof and instead officers must prove on balance of probability that the money is as a result of unlawful conduct. The counsel for the prosecution informed the Judge that he believed this to be the first forfeiture order granted in the country. Intelligence was received by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) in late March to suggest the man was laundering suspiciously high amounts of money through his bank account. An account freezing order was granted on 6 April which stopped him from conducting any other transactions while his account was investigated. He was found to have deposited around £2.5million into his account almost all in cash over a period of just eight months, a figure far greater than his annual income as a freelance car mechanic, leading to an application for a forfeiture order being made at court by ERSOU. Detective Inspector Rob Turner, from ERSOU’s regional economic crime unit, said: “We’re really pleased the order was granted at court today. We want to maximise this new legislation to disrupt criminals across the region and will continue to use any powers available to show that crime does not pay.” The forfeited money will be split between the Home Office and the individual forces that ERSOU’s regional economic crime unit represents - Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk. The man has 30 days in which to appeal the decision.