CROOKS OWE PS7m IN DIRTY MONEY; Ill-gotten millions overdue.
Byline: STUART MACDONALD firstname.lastname@example.org
WEALTHY criminals targeted under "dirty money" laws have failed to hand over PS7million of their ill-gotten gains.
Prosecutors boasted they are taking millions every year under the Proceeds of Crime Act and diverting the money into community projects.
But many of the crooks - such as fraudsters, drug dealers and money launderers, - still owe cash years after confiscation orders were imposed on them by courts. Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) figures released under freedom of information laws show there is PS6,982,149 outstanding in confiscation orders compared to PS6,578,568 last year.
Almost PS3.5million is owed by just 10 people.
As of last month, Edinburgh brothel boss Margaret Paterson, 65, had the largest amount outstanding at PS780,440.
Scottish Tories justice spokesman Liam Kerr MSP said: "The concept of taking money back from criminals and putting it into the community is sound. But it seems this legislation is increasingly toothless, with millions outstanding."
Scottish Labour justice spokesman Daniel Johnson MSP said: "These are deeply troubling figures. Reclaiming illicit earnings from criminals is a crucial part of the justice process and it is particularly concerning to see so few people owing so much.
"Given organised crime is making fear and violence part of everyday life for some Scottish communities it is essential every possible tool is available to target gangland kingpins."
The SCTS said PS5.3million of the money outstanding was "in arrears" while PS1.6million was "on track" to be paid through installments.
They added: "By its nature, a confiscation order is a financial penalty which may take some time to recover in full."
The Scottish Government said powers introduced last year to seize assets gained through crime would make enforcement of confiscation orders "easier and faster".
CRITICAL MSPs Daniel Johnson, left, and Liam Kerr