The Criminal Finances Act 2017 inserted new sections into Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This allows for the freezing and subsequent forfeiture of funds held in bank and building society accounts. It is a two stage process.
First, a senior officer or officer authorised by a senior officer can apply to a magistrates’ court for an Account Freezing Order where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the account contains the proceeds of crime or is intended for use in unlawful conduct. In practice this is a low threshold and such orders are routinely granted. The simplicity of this process is a key to the widespread use of these orders.
Subsequently, having investigated, the law enforcement agency may then apply for a Forfeiture Order. If the magistrates’ court is satisfied that the funds in the account represent the proceeds of crime or are intended for use in unlawful conduct, it will grant a Forfeiture Order. The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities and there is no requirement for a criminal conviction to have been obtained against any party.
Stewart Begum Solicitors can help you if your assets have been frozen. Get in touch.