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Where criminals hide their loot; Cash, bank accounts, property, cars and jewellery have all been seized by the courts.

Byline: DEBORA ARU

RIMINALS were ordered to pay back more than PS163 million from the proceeds of crime last year.

Courts across England and Wales imposed 3,840 confiscation orders in 2018/19, new figures have revealed.

Those are orders aimed at depriving criminals of money or other assets they have acquired illegally.

The 3,840 confiscation orders covered a total of 9,906 assets, with a total value of PS163.2 million.

Nearly a quarter of those assets - 2,469 - were cash.

A further 2,344 were bank or building society accounts, or money otherwise held with a financial institution.

In 1,393, the asset was in the form buildings or land that were ordered to be handed over.

In 1,333 cases the assets were cars or other vehicles and in 878 cases they were jewellery.

The figures were revealed through freedom of information request to HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

It showed the total number of assets recovered had fallen from 5,357 2017/18.

The total value of assets covered by confiscation orders was also down, from PS259.8 million.

Only PS185 million of the PS259.8 million owed in 2017/18 was actually collected, the data shows.

The government said it would continue to aggressively pursue outstanding amounts.

a A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: "Cracking down on those who do not pay is an absolute priority and we take the payment and enforcement of criminal debt very seriously.

"The agencies involved in the enforcement of confiscation orders - including the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service - take every step to tackle outstanding debt including the addition of interest and imprisonment for those who do not pay.

"Crucially, an outstanding order stops the criminal benefitting from the proceeds of crime and ensures that, if the assets are discovered in the future, they can be seized."

A spokesperson for Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said: "Speaking from the perspective of the SFO, it is very difficult to establish a trend from these figures.

dependent on successful criminal prosecutions, appeals, and the availability of court time to complete proceedings. It also takes time to enforce and pay confiscation orders, both of which can be made more complex by the nature of the asset.

"The process may take many years and will not provide a correlation that reliably reflects the actual activity.

"The SFO does not receive any funds from confiscation, but where appropriate we will seek a compensation order as part of the proceedings to ensure victims receive any funds captured by the confiscation order."

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:May 31, 2019
Words:436
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