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Money Laundering – Drugs-Tainted Property Portfolio To Be Seized

Detatched house private driveDrug dealers and other criminals have a tendency to launder their profits through the property market, often using family members as go-betweens. As one High Court case showed, however, the authorities are well equipped to deal with such tactics.

The case concerned four residential properties that were held in the names of the wife, brother and sister-in-law of a man who had served prison sentences for smuggling heroin, conspiring to supply cocaine and money laundering.

The National Crime Agency launched proceedings on the basis that the properties had been acquired, held and transferred between various family members who had no identifiable sources of lawful income. The only plausible explanation for the convoluted manner in which the properties had been dealt with was that they had been acquired with the proceeds of crime.

In upholding those arguments, the Court made recovery orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, enabling the seizure of all four properties. The evidence established that they had been obtained through unlawful conduct and the orders were neither disproportionate nor unfair in the circumstances.