A convicted drug dealer who allegedly amassed more than £900,000 through criminal activity was ordered to repay the cash following a two year investigation by the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit.
Southwark Crown Court found that Max Free of Hampton Wick, benefited from his criminal activity to the value of £905,596.
His assets included four properties, almost £14,000 cash in six bank accounts, a stocks and shares portfolio worth £100,000 and an £18,000 ISA.
He was ordered to pay £478,914 within six months under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) or face a further three years six months consecutive sentence.
The confiscation order comes after Free was originally arrested in May 2010 in connection with an inquiry into money laundering. Police searched his home and found 4 kg of cannabis resin, with a wholesale value of £3,434.
In October 2010 Free pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply the drug and was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years and given 200 hours of unpaid work and a six month curfew order. No further action was taken in respect of the money laundering allegations.
Following this conviction, specialist financial investigation detectives from the NTFIU turned their financial expertise to this criminal case and commenced a confiscation investigation against him.
Investigators looked into Free's bank accounts, property purchases and business dealings and found that £1.6 million had been credited into his bank accounts in a six year period to 2010, which detectives judged to be the proceeds of crime.
Free fought the confiscation and claimed in court that the deposits in his accounts were the profits of property deals and repayments of loans to associates. However under the terms of POCA, the duty was on Free to prove that his assets and the cash that passed through his accounts were legitimate, and he failed to convince the court.
Detective Superintendent Terri Nicholson, of the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit, said: “Max Free is paying a heavy price for his drug dealing. He was caught with drugs with a wholesale value of just £3,434 but thanks to the work of financial investigators from the Met's National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit, he is now faced with a confiscation order against him for £905,596”.
By fraud solicitor, Priscilla Addo-Quaye
- Here at Stephensons we believe that for anyone facing confiscation proceedings it is important that the legal team has the requisite experience to ensure that our clients’ assets are protected.
- Our team at Stephensons has expertise in all areas pertaining to financial asset recovery and we will fight to protect those assets that should not come within these orders.