Alex Jamieson secures overturn of Account Freezing Order and return of £1million for Overseas Individual
A specialist intelligence-led police unit obtained an account freezing order against an Iraqi national, in respect of £1million held in an investment trading account. There had allegedly been irregularities in the due-diligence surrounding the set-up of the account, and a Suspicious Activity Report had been issued by the institution to law enforcement. The order was obtained under the new s303Z1 ex parte for a period of 12 months and thereafter susceptible to forfeiture.
Alex was instructed by Saba Hasan of Jai Stern LLP to advise, and to devise a manner in which the order might be challenged. Together, they were able to uncover irregularities and unfairness in the application process and the evidence relied upon before the Magistrates.
Faced with an application to discharge and liability for mounting costs, the police unit instead capitulated and brought forward an uncontested application that the order be discharged, and our client be returned his money in full.
White Collar Crime professionals will be aware that AFOs were created alongside the infamous Unexplained Wealth Orders by the Criminal Finances Act 2017; but that AFOs are in many respects the more powerful and disruptive prosecutorial tool. This case illustrates both the willingness of law enforcement to deploy their new POCA powers; but also the fact that even specialist departments seem yet to have truly got to grips their commensurate legal obligations, leaving opportunities for the defence to exploit and attack.
A wider discussion of the relevant legal issues raised in the case is available here.