05/09/2003

Customs succeed with £93,000 proceeds of crime forfeiture

The largest ever forfeiture of cash in Scotland under the new Proceeds of Crime Act has been granted by Glasgow Sheriff Court following an investigation by Customs and Excise.

In April this year Customs officers seized more than £93,000 from an individual near Lockerbie, on the grounds of “reasonable suspicion” that the cash was related to criminal activity.

Today the forfeiture of the cash was granted unopposed at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Customs Head of Investigation Scotland Pete McGee said: “This signals our intention to hit organised criminals where it most hurts - in the pocket. When we take money from them, they lose influence and power amongst their peers, and it drives down the profit motive in their crimes.

"With the new Proceeds of Crime legislation, we now have even stronger powers to tackle criminals at every stage of their activities. The Act enables Customs officers to seize suspect criminal cash anywhere in the UK. Previously we could only seize money under civil powers at the border, and then only if we suspected that it was linked to drugs.

"The powers we now have under this legislation allow us to take money out of the supply chain - money that could otherwise be invested in committing further crimes."

The Proceeds of Crime Act gave Customs two new key powers in December 2002. Customs are now able to seize suspect criminal cash anywhere in the UK, for any crime, whereas previously they could only seize money at borders - and then only when it was suspected to be linked to drugs crimes.

Under the new laws people have 30 days in which to lodge an appeal against forfeiture.

(SP)

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