Visitors to this page are primarily interested in understanding the processes and legal frameworks surrounding account freezing orders, asset forfeiture, and cash detention in order to learn about the various types of asset forfeiture, such as criminal and civil. They also seek information on the possible defences and courses of action if they find themselves subject to these measures. Additionally, they may be searching for expert legal representation and advice from solicitors experienced in dealing with cases involving account freezing, asset forfeiture, and cash detention to ensure they receive the best possible guidance and support throughout their case.To get in touch with our team of specialists, please contact us.
Account Freezing, Asset Forfeiture, and Cash Detention Solicitors
Account freezing, asset forfeiture, and cash detention are important legal tools used by the authorities to combat financial crimes such as money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist financing.
What is an Account Freezing Order?
An account freezing order is a legal measure used during investigations to temporarily restrict access to an individual’s or entity’s financial assets. If you are the target of an account freezing order, it indicates that authorities are conducting an in-depth examination of your alleged offences(s) to ascertain if there is adequate evidence to substantiate the claims. This process is designed to prevent the dissipation or movement of funds linked to potential criminal activity, while ensuring a thorough and fair investigation takes place.
Account freezing orders (AFOs) can be granted under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) or the Criminal Finances Act 2017. AFOs are usually issued by the courts upon the request of law enforcement agencies or government bodies such as the National Crime Agency (NCA), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
What is asset forfeiture?
Asset forfeiture refers to the confiscation of assets, such as property, vehicles, or financial instruments, which are believed to be the proceeds of crime or used in criminal conduct. The purpose of asset forfeiture is to disrupt and deter criminal enterprises by depriving them of the financial resources and tools necessary to conduct their operations.
What are the types of asset forfeiture?
There are two types:
Criminal Asset Forfeiture
This occurs when assets are confiscated as a result of a criminal conviction. It is dependent on the successful prosecution of the criminal case and requires a court order following conviction.
Civil Asset Forfeiture
In this case, assets can be seized without a criminal conviction. Authorities need only demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that the assets in question are connected to criminal activities. This type of forfeiture is more common. Civil asset forfeiture can only take place following proceedings in the civil courts.
The legal framework underpinning asset forfeiture is the Proceeds of Crime Act 2003 (POCA).
Cash detention is the temporary seizure of cash, in excess of £1,000, by the police or other law enforcement officers when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the funds are derived from, or intended for use in, criminal conduct.
The reasonable grounds for suspicion can be based on intelligence that the authorities hold on the cash holder or his/her associates or suspected links with criminal activity. They can also be based on the answers given by the person in possession of the cash if they are not credible.
The main legal framework underpinning cash detention is the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).
Cash is usually seized following a stop and search, at border control, so at a port, at a business premises.
The authorities are entitled to seize and detain the cash for an initial 48 hours. If they intend to detain the cash that they have seized beyond 48 hours, they must make an application to the Magistrates’ Court within those 48 hours. You are entitled to attend the hearing of the application in person or you can have legal representation at the hearing.
The onus to prove that the money derives from criminal conduct or was intended for use in criminal conduct is on the police or other law enforcement officer.
The court considers the matter on the civil standard of proof, which is on the balance of probabilities, i.e. more likely than not, if the cash is likely to be the proceeds of crime. The Magistrates’ Court must then decide whether to grant further detention of the cash to the requesting authority.
Defences to cash detention
It may be possible to challenge cash detention on the basis that the money has legitimate origins, so is not the proceeds of crime, and it was not intended for use in criminal conduct.
The sort of information or evidence that is likely to be required in advising and/or defending such matters includes:
Bank statements, transaction histories, and other financial documents that can help demonstrate the legitimacy of your assets or funds.
Any communication with banks, law enforcement, or regulatory authorities regarding the freezing, forfeiture, or detention of your assets.
Court orders, notices, or other legal papers related to your case.
Personal and business background
Details about your personal and professional life, including employment history, business activities, and relationships that may be relevant to the case.
Legal representation for Account Freezing, Asset Forfeiture, and Cash Detention
We are experienced in defending matters involving Account Freezing, Asset Forfeiture, and Cash Detention. If you ask us to represent you, we will step in immediately to provide a sound defence.
Financial and business crime is a complex area of law and it is important to work with a solicitor who has experience and understanding of both the legal position and the processes involved. We have the expertise to represent you and your business in investigations and against criminal charges.
Contact our Account Freezing, Asset Forfeiture, and Cash Detention solicitors
If you are or may be subject to Account Freezing, Asset Forfeiture, and Cash Detention, we can help and ensure that you have the representation you need.