You have probably heard about asset financing, auctioning, repossession, collateral and so forth. But what is civil asset recovery? How does the term relate to your current life? Does it have anything to do with confiscation and the return of goods?
If yes, then what type of assets? Well, here is what you need to know about the term.
Civil Asset Recovery is a legal process where law enforcement agencies can seize assets from individuals who have committed crimes or are suspected of committing crimes.
The process involves seizing property such as cash, cars, real estate, etc. CAR is a very important part of the criminal justice system because it helps recover stolen funds and prevent further crime.
Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 introduced this process to the UK’s constitution. The idea here was to ensure that the state can lay claim on assets acquired through crime or fraud without criminal convictions. Part 8 of the act adds powers to the state so that it can even seek explanations of your wealth.
CAR also encompasses the recovery of unpaid taxes and dues to the government. Part 5 of the Crime act 2002 gives the National Crime Agency (NCA) powers to inspect and claim any unpaid government dues due to capital gains from criminal activity.
Here is how the government recovers assets from criminal or fraud activities:
- Identifying the wealth: The first step to CAR is, of course, identifying property or wealth gained through criminal activity or fraud. Agencies such as the police or NCA are used for this purpose.
- Property Freezing: The NCA will first obtain an asset freezing order at the onset of the CAR investigation. This order freezes all the assets in question and compels you to provide any required information about them. You might be allowed to have some assets to cater for your living and legal expenses.
- Unexplained Wealth Order: The NCA might then go to the High Court to obtain an Unexplained Wealth Order. This step will only happen if your properties are worth over 50,000 euros. There should also be sufficient grounds for suspecting that your income is insufficient to obtain such a property. The order will only be sought if you do not provide reasonable explanations or adequate evidence regarding the asset in question.
- Civil Recovery Order: Next up, the NCA will go to the High Court to claim the recoverable assets obtained through fraud. Before the process continues, the court must be convinced that the asset in question has been obtained via criminal conduct.
- Asset Confiscation: The NCA will file a motion before the court requesting that the court orders the seizure of the seized assets. The court will then decide whether to grant the motion.
The outcome of CAR can vary depending on the circumstances of each case. However, the main aim of the process remains the same – recovering assets that were obtained through criminal or fraudulent means.
Civil proceedings which do not necessitate a conviction
As stated earlier, NCA doesn’t necessarily need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that your property results from fraud. The Agency can do CAR without a conviction in the following circumstances:
- Civil Recovery: Here, a criminal conviction is not possible. The NCA is allowed by law to confiscate such assets if there is a high probability they result from unlawful activities.
- Taxation: If the NCA suspects that your income is a result of criminal proceeds, it is allowed by the law to confiscate any tax payable to the HM Revenue and Customs agency.
What should you do when you are issued an asset recovery order?
Nearly all CAR proceeds necessitate litigation in High Court, Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court. In some cases, more than one court will have the jurisdiction. When issued with such an order, you are supposed to get a civil recovery and property freezing order solicitor.
You need to intervene in the confiscation proceedings if the property in question was lawfully acquired. If you keep quiet or ignore the orders, your property will be confiscated, and your interests will not be overridden or overlooked. So, get yourself a barrister with knowledge and experience in confiscation law.
Civil Asset Recovery is a tool the National Crime Agency uses to recover funds from criminals and their associates. It is a very powerful weapon that can be used against those involved in money laundering and other crimes. The NCA does not seek convictions but rather seeks to seize assets obtained through illegal means.