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Cash Seizure and Forfeiture

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), police and other authorities can seize cash and assets that are owned by you or found in your possession if they believe that cash or those assets have been acquired through criminal activity.

Our criminal defence team are highly experienced in supporting people who have had cash and assets seized by police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Serious Fraud Office (SFO) or the National Crime Agency (NCA). We know how distressing it can be to have your property seized and how disruptive an effect it can have on your life and your ability to provide for your family. Our lawyers have an extraordinarily strong track record of resisting applications for the forfeiture of seized assets and have been able, in the past, to secure the recovery of property that has been taken by police and other authorities. 

If you have had cash seized by the police, you need immediate legal advice to discover whether the amount has been seized legally. You do not need to have been found guilty of a crime and regaining access to your property can be exceedingly difficult without the right legal support.

Our highly recommended criminal lawyers in London and Belfast have a wealth of experience in dealing with cash seizure and forfeiture cases, therefore we should be the first point of contact.

Our cash and asset forfeiture defence services

We specialise in all matters concerning criminal law and POCA law proceedings. We act for individuals and their family members, as well as financial institutions, professional services firms and companies – who may find themselves targets of the asset recovery or forfeiture regimes.

Typically, you are given no warning about such proceedings; the first you know of a seizure may be when police or other government officers turn up at your home or place of business. If this occurs, we can offer immediate support to help you keep access to your cash and assets where possible, or to minimise the value of cash and assets you lose where proceedings cannot be avoided.

Money laundering and asset freezing

We understand that even the most diligent professional can become unwittingly caught up in money laundering. The stigma can adversely affect your reputation and that of your business. If you are found to be guilty of such a crime, the penalties and professional sanctions are severe.

It is often the case that innocent parties are caught up in money laundering investigations due to inadequate internal procedures. Money laundering is the generic term for any activities that turns criminally obtained money or property into assets that appear to have been obtained legitimately. 

Asset recovery

For individuals and business who believe they have fallen victim to fraud, our commercial litigation experts can assist in the recovery of assets – both in the UK and internationally – lost due to the fraud. We also defend clients who are accused of fraud, to ensure their assets and rights are protected during a dispute. For advice on any aspect of asset recovery, contact our expert commercial litigation lawyers today.

Cash seizure and forfeiture

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has made it increasingly common for the authorities to seize cash above the value of £1000 and then apply to the Court for forfeiture of those monies. This is done on the basis that the police believe that the monies are the proceeds of criminal activity or could be used to fund criminal activity.

Seized cash can normally only be held for up to 48 hours unless a court order says that it can be kept for longer. The cash is normally kept in an account that accrues interest until the court proceedings have finished. Cash seizure involves criminal law and so the prosecution has to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the cash was illegal or going to be used illegally.

An alternative method is cash forfeiture which is a civil matter and this means that the court can only order the forfeiture of cash if it is proved that it was ‘more likely than not’ the cash was illegal or to be used illegally.

Cash seizure is one of those situations where the law of innocent until proven guilty seems to have been reversed with individuals having to prove where their money has come from in order to have it returned to them, rather than the authorities having to prove it was from an illegitimate source.

The cash can be detained for up to 90 days and the process can be repeated for up to 2 years. Proving the source of cash can be difficult and often required detailed consideration of financial documents.

These powers were widely utilised by the Metropolitan Police during Operation Rize, the search of approximately 7,000 safety deposit boxes at three London locations; which enabled the seizure of a vast quantity of cash.

Experienced cash seizure and forfeiture lawyers

Our experienced lawyers are on hand to provide you with timely advice as you need to know very quickly whether the forfeiture or seizure was legal and whether it can be challenged. If necessary, we apply for an order to the Courts to have your money returned.

Our lawyers have substantial experience of advising on consumer protection including the law on unfair terms in consumer contracts and advertising standards. We also advise on passengers rights in respect of denied boarding, delay and cancellation. Another area that we offer expert advice on is air travel organisers licensing and package tour and holiday regulation.

Our lawyers can advise you on company law and corporate governance. We act for vendors and purchasers of companies and undertake due diligence (with the advantage of our understanding of air transport regulation and licensing, industry commercial contracts, competition and merger regulation).

An important part of our regulatory practice is advising on competition law at national and EU level. We have experience of advising on the prohibition of anti-competitive agreements and practices, unlawful state aid, abuse of dominant position and on merger regulation.

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