MORE than £10.5 million worth of proceeds of crime has been recovered in the past year, the Solicitor General Lesley Thomson, QC, announced today.
Prosecutors secured confiscation orders worth over £7 million against convicted drug dealers, money launderers and fraudsters. The Civil Recovery Unit recovered over £3.5 million during the same period. The Civil Recovery Unit has also today issued its Annual Report giving further information about its activities during 2011/12.
The amount recovered by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Civil Recovery Unit in the last 12 months brings the total secured since the commencement of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) in 2003 to over £69 million.
The money has been put to the Scottish Consolidated Fund to be reinvested in Scottish communities via the CashBack for Communities programme.
Announcing this year’s POCA figures, the Solicitor General said:
“Taking over £10.5 million from criminals is another great achievement by our dedicated Proceeds of Crime teams.
“Just as important as the sum recovered is the disruption caused to individual criminals and serious and organised crime groups in Scotland.
“Depriving criminals of their money and assets can significantly disrupt their activities, prevent them from re-investing their profits, and make it difficult for them to carry out their criminal enterprises. When the money and assets go so does the status and power.
“There is no place in Scotland for those who want a lifestyle funded by crime. We will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies to use Proceeds of Crime laws to make Scotland an increasingly hostile place for these criminals.
“I also welcome today’s publication of the Civil Recovery Unit’s second Annual Report which provides further information about its activities over the past year.”
Lindsey Miller, Head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division (SOCD) and the COPFS POCA Champion, said:
“The Proceeds of Crime Act is a powerful tool in our armoury in the fight against crime in Scotland. We continue to make maximum use of the legislation to deprive criminals of money and assets.
“We target people who make money from all types of crime, from serious and organised criminals engaged in money laundering and drug dealing, to individuals committing tax and benefit fraud and immigration offences.
“We have also applied to the court in a number of cases this year to have administrators appointed to take control of houses where accused have been unable or unwilling to sell them to pay the confiscation order. This sends a strong message that the Crown will not tolerate delay and prevarication in the payment of an order.
“Our priority is disrupting and dismantling criminal enterprises, and we will continue to work with the police, SCDEA, HMRC and DWP to achieve this aim.”
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill said:
“I welcome this excellent work by police and prosecutors, seizing millions cracking down on gangsters and their ill-gotten gains. Criminals don’t contribute to our communities, they live off them and serious organised crime has an impact on everyone in Scotland, harming communities and legitimate businesses through drugs, extortion and counterfeit goods.
“That is exactly why cash seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act should be used to benefit communities which have suffered from criminal acts.
“Our CashBack for Communities programme invests crooks’ cash in building better, safer, stronger communities, improving facilities, taking young people off the streets and putting them on a positive path. We have invested over £45m in providing opportunities for some 600,000 young people to take part in hundreds of thousands of free sports and cultural activities since CashBack began in 2007.
“Last year amendments were made to the Proceeds of Crime Act to provide law enforcement agencies with additional powers to target a wider range of criminals and criminal conduct. We are continuing to look at other ways to refine the Act to make it even more effective, and we are working closely with the Home Office to do so.
“We have also allocated approximately £2 million funding for financial investigators in the police and the Crown Office, to ensure even more criminals are targeted.”