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Courts can order the recalculation of available assets

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The Court of Appeal ordered the recalculation of a defendant’s available amount seven years after his original confiscation proceedings and where he had acquired assets through his legitimate business.

In 2006 Mr Padda pleaded guilty to several drug dealing offences.  Proceeds of Crime proceedings followed and a confiscation order was imposed for £9,520 based on his available assets at that time. Mr Padda paid £9,520 in full. The judge found Mr Padda had ‘benefited’ from his offending to the extent of £156,226.74.

Following his release from prison, Mr Padda began working for a car company and in 2010 set up a successful business. In 2013 the Prosecution applied for Mr Padda’s available amount to be recalculated as it believed Mr Padda had acquired sufficient means to satisfy the confiscation order’s outstanding balance based on his ‘benefit’ of £156,226.74.

Mr Padda argued that assets he now held had been acquired legitimately and should not be confiscated to satisfy the order made in 2006 as it would be unfair and unjust. The judge ruled that the purpose of Proceeds Of Crime Act (POCA) legislation is to deprive criminals of a benefit they have achieved from their criminal conduct and is not really interested in the source of resources from which a criminal might be expected to repay that benefit to the State.

Therefore, a further confiscation order was imposed in the sum of £74,652.02 based on Mr Padda’s available assets. A sentence of 12 months imprisonment in the event Mr Padda defaulted was also imposed.

Mr Padda appealed against the judge’s ruling submitting that the passage of time and the fact he had gained the relevant assets by hard work in a legitimate enterprise should have precluded a further order. The Court of Appeal found that the court must take into account the legislative policy in favour of maximising the recovery of proceeds of crime, even from legitimate assets acquired. The court ruled that the judge had taken a proper course in the order made and it was neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive.  Mr Padda’s appeal was dismissed.

The effect of this ruling means that the court may order recalculation of the available amount even where defendants have acquired assets through entirely legitimate means and regardless of the passage of time which may have elapsed since the original confiscation order was made.

If you are facing confiscation proceedings it is vital that you seek specialist advice.  Our team at Stephensons has expertise in all areas pertaining to confiscation proceedings and financial asset recovery.

By Priscilla Addo-Quaye, fraud solicitor