International city businesses hand over €34m proceeds of crime in the UK’s largest account forfeiture
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The City of London Police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the private sector have worked together, using specialist powers, to achieve the largest ever proceeds of crime forfeiture in the UK.
Du Toit & Co LLP (a South African law firm operating from UK offices) and Xiperias Ltd (a Cypriot registered company, which claimed ownership of the bulk of the funds) both agreed to forfeit €34m, to settle litigation alleging that the funds in two bank accounts were from unlawful conduct.
Temporary Commander Clinton Blackburn, from the City of London Police, said:
“Money laundering, the process of legitimising money gained from criminal activities, is integral to organised crime. This case sends out a strong message that we will continue to pursue those involved in enabling financial crime.
“The City of London Police, and its partners, will continue to cut access to money laundering routes, which is key to defeating organised crime at source.”
The CPS assisted City of London Police in obtaining Account Freezing Orders on the two accounts on 16 June 2020 and helped conduct an expeditious investigation involving lines of enquiry in multiple jurisdictions across three continents.
By collaboratively working with partners from Europol, foreign law enforcement agencies and stakeholders from the private sector, including Lloyds Banking Group, the investigation identified overwhelming evidence that the monies were unlawfully obtained from international money laundering and layered through the UK banking system to present a veneer of legitimacy.
Account Forfeiture Orders were applied for by CPS Proceeds of Crime specialists and City of London Police in March 2021 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which were granted by consent today [22 October 2021]. Xiperias Ltd and Du Toit & Co. LLP agreed that over €34m in the two bank accounts were the proceeds of unlawful conduct carried out by others, of which they had neither knowledge nor suspicion.
This was the first time that the CPS has used powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to appear in court on behalf of the police in an Account Forfeiture Order.
Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said:
“This case sends a clear message that a company or individual does not have to have been convicted for us to pursue, seize and take the proceeds of crime passing through the city of London.
“The CPS has the ability to use our specialist knowledge and experience to assist police forces to tackle international illicit finance and economic crime. We will continue to work together to use the full range of our powers to disrupt criminals’ ability to benefit from their illegal activity at home and abroad.”