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CPS recovers all assets from Darwin fraud case

14/02/2012

The Crown Prosecution Service has recovered more than half a million pounds from Anne Darwin in connection with the insurance fraud over her husband’s faked death.

John Darwin was reported missing in a canoe in the sea off Seaton Carew in March 2002. While his wife collected hundreds of thousands of pounds in life insurance payouts, John Darwin hid in the marital home, allowing the couple's two sons to think their father was dead.

Both John and Anne Darwin were found guilty of the deception in 2008, after which the CPS applied for, and was granted, a confiscation order to retrieve the money Anne Darwin received from her insurance companies and pension funds.

Head of the North East CPS Complex Casework Unit, Kingsley Hyland, said: "After a painstaking operation over the past two and a half years, the CPS has now successfully recovered all the assets which Anne Darwin held as a result of the fraud, amounting to £501,641.39."

The assets included a fourth floor apartment in a leafy suburb of Panama City and an overgrown plot of land near the artificial Lake Gatun, which forms part of the Panama Canal. Both have now been sold.

The CPS obtained a freezing order under the Proceeds of Crime Act in December 2007, which prevented Mrs Darwin from accessing her assets. All the money held in accounts in both countries, which comes to nearly £9,000 more than initially thought, has now also been seized.

This money will now be returned to the insurance companies and pension funds involved.

Mr Hyland said: "It has taken some time to sell the property in Panama but we are extremely pleased to have got through the very complex process of recovering this money from overseas. It is important that fraudsters see that not only will we prosecute them wherever possible, but we will also make every effort to retrieve their ill-gotten gains to return them to those they have defrauded."

The Panama properties were initially valued before the global financial crisis, which subsequently affected the value of the Panama property market. This resulted in the overall value of the assets recovered being lower than the value of the confiscation order. The receiver made every effort to sell the property at the highest price while being mindful of not prolonging the process unnecessarily.

End

NOTES TO EDITORS

1.      For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926

2.      Anne Darwin was found guilty of six counts of fraud and nine of money laundering and was sentenced to six and a half years in prison at Teeside Crown Court on 23 July 2008.

3.      Breakdown of assets recovered:

Asset - Apartment, Panama City
Assessed Value - £57,828.97
Amount recovered - £35,648.35
 
Asset - Land near Lake Gatun, Panama
Assessed Value -  £232,335.93
Amount recovered - £155,414.47
 
Asset - HBCS account in Panama
Assessed Value - £11,027.31
Amount recovered - £11,027.31
 
Asset - HSBC account Panama
Assessed Value - £132,633.00
Amount recovered - £141,508.69
 
Asset - HSBC account  in Panama
Assessed Value - £292.13
Amount recovered - £292.13
 
Asset - Yorkshire Bank account in UK
Assessed Value - £157,696.84
Amount recovered - £157,696.84
 
Asset - HSBC account in UK
Assessed Value - £24.07
Amount recovered - £24.07
 
Asset - Bank interest received
Amount recovered - £29.53
 
Asset - Total
Assessed Value - £591,838.25
Amount recovered  - £501,641.39
 

4.      The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010. It can be seen at http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/core_quality_standards/index.html

5.      The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Division, Special Crime and Counter Terrorism, and Organised Crime. From 1 September 2011, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) prosecution function was transferred to the CPS.  A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.

6.     In 2010-2011 the CPS employed around 7,745 people and prosecuted 957,881 cases with 116,898 of these in the Crown Court, and the remaining 840,983 in the magistrates' courts. Of those we prosecuted, 93,106 defendants were convicted in the Crown Court and 727,491 in the magistrates' courts. In total 86% of cases prosecuted resulted in a conviction. Further information can be found on the CPS website.

7.      The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.  This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.  The Protocol is published on our website at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/agencies/mediaprotocol.html