Guilty until proven innocent: Court assumes those without extra income use 'hot' money

In the case of Serious Organised Crime Agency v Turrall, the High Court has taken the view that items of property have been purchased with the proceeds of crime and are, therefore, recoverable.

04 October 2013

In the absence of any evidence of legitimate income, and where an individual has a substantial history of theft and drug offences, the High Court has taken the view (Serious Organised Crime Agency v Turrall) that items of property have been purchased with the proceeds of crime. Such items are, therefore, recoverable under s.266 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

In the present case, the Court stated that various items, including two properties, a BMW, two antique clocks and various watches, were recoverable by drawing inferences from the fact that: the respondent had a serious history of offending; his cash had been forfeited on previous occasions as the proceeds of crime; he had used third parties, including his own family members, to conceal money and assets; he and his wife lacked a legitimate income to have paid for the various items; and certain items had been purchased with untraceable cash.

As a result, the Court accepted that the items had been purchased with the proceeds of crime and were recoverable despite there being no actual proven link between the money and crime.

The author Thomas Webb advises clients on legal issues connected to allegations of fraud, money laundering, bribery and white collar crime. He is part of Burges Salmon's Fraud and White Collar Crime team led by David Hall.

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