Account Freezing and Forfeiture and Cash Detention
For many years, law enforcement authorities have been able to seize, detain and forfeit cash suspected to be the proceeds of crime. More recently those powers have been extended to include money held in accounts with banks and other financial institutions. Our lawyers are frequently called upon to advise businesses and individuals affected by such orders, with an impressive track record of success.
We are ranked in the top band for this type of work (Proceeds of Crime and Forfeiture) in the Chambers UK 2021 legal directory, which says:
Chambers 2021 says: “[a] respected financial crime practice regularly advising high-profile individuals on POCA [proceeds of crime] issues … Particularly active in representing clients in account freezing and cash seizure orders.”
Tackling the flows of illicit finance has become an increasing priority for law enforcement. Having had the power to detain cash for many years, the relatively new power to freeze bank accounts is now being used by UK law enforcement agencies with dramatic regularity.
There need not be an ongoing criminal investigation. The money can be frozen for up to two years if it is suspected to represent the proceeds of crime or be intended for use in crime whilst the authorities investigate.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the authorities can forfeit the money, either by serving a notice or applying to a Magistrates’ Court.
The use of account freezing orders can have a devastating effect, both financially and reputationally, leading to difficulties with other banking relationships.
Our lawyers are adept at advising clients affected by these orders, assessing the risks, devising the most appropriate strategy and gathering and presenting the evidence necessary to discharge them.