International city businesses hand over €34m proceeds of crime in the UK’s largest account forfeiture
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), City of London Police 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 (the equivalent of £28.75m), to settle litigation alleging that the funds in two bank accounts were from unlawful conduct.
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, 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.”
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.”
Notes to editors
- Adrian Foster is the Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS Proceeds of Crime Division.
- The City of London Police applied for an Account Forfeiture Order under section 303Z14 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 with the CPS conducting the litigation on its behalf, using the power in section 303Z19 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This gives the CPS the power to appear in Account Freezing and Forfeiture Order proceedings on behalf of the police.
- Civil Account Forfeiture describes where money in bank or building society accounts is recovered through civil litigation rather than using confiscation orders made by criminal courts following convictions. The process is similar to the confiscation process, but in this case the individual does not have to be convicted of an offence for the assets to be recovered. Instead, it must be proved “on the balance of probability” that the property was or represents property obtained through unlawful conduct.
- The Account Forfeiture Orders were against two accounts, one containing €34,029,902.57 and the other containing £36,097.98.
- The City of London Police is responsible for policing the City's business district, the 'Square Mile' in the historical centre of London. In addition, it holds national responsibility for Economic Crime and under this remit is host to Action Fraud (the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting service), the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department and the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. The City of London continues to be one of the safest urban areas in the country.