5.5.09

LAWLESS BRITAIN

Prosecutors in the UK's tax ministry are getting bonuses for seizing the assets of defendants - even before they're found guilty.

Criminal Law Week suggests the behaviour of UK Revenue & Customs borders on corruption, as officials profit from "a revenue-raising racket".

More after my article which dates from May 2009.

LAWLESS BRITAIN

In Spanish, poca means a little. In Britain, it can mean the lot, because it stands for the Proceeds of Crimes Act.

Under this act, police do not have to prove that you committed a crime.

They simply ask you to prove that you earned the money legitimately. If you can't prove it, they can take it.

In the following case, the man may or may not be a crook. The fact is, they didn't have to prove it either way.

As Maurice Saatchi, Margaret Thatcher's ad man, wrote on Monday, Britons stand by idly as their rights are whittled away, content with the phrase, "if you're not guilty, you've got nothing to hide".

A man has been ordered to forfeit more than £67,000 because he could not prove where the money came from....

Adept con Phil Davies of something the BBC identifies merely as "the division" said:

"Specific criminal conduct need not be proved.

"It is enough to show that the cash is probably related to one of a number of kinds of activity, any one of which would have been unlawful, for example, cheating the revenue, trading in counterfeit goods, drug supply or falsely claiming state benefits."

"The public can really help us by passing on any information about people who may be making a living off ill-gotten gains.

"Generally, these people are clearly seen to spend more than their apparent disposable income. This can include owning properties, expensive cars or having a social lifestyle beyond their means."


Update: October 2009.
From The Times:

Police forces, other law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, the courts and the Home Office itself all stand to benefit financially from convictions which lead to confiscation orders.

In one recent case, 16 people convicted in a £3.2 million VAT fraud conspiracy were each ordered to pay back £3.2 million — a total of £51 million.

In another case a pharmacist who had overclaimed £464 in VAT was subjected to a confiscation order of more than £212,000.

Criminal Law Week, the respected legal journal, has commented on “extravagant claims” for confiscation which “leave the impression that some prosecuting authorities have abandoned any pretence to fulfil a ‘minister of justice’ role in favour of taking advantage of what they appear to see as a revenue-raising racket”.

The journal has described as “a scandal” the link between the funding of law enforcement agencies and the amounts of money they can confiscate. It added: “Targets ... far from improving the quality of criminal justice, merely serve to corrupt the system.”

The RCPO disclosed to The Times under freedom of information legislation that in 2008-09 it paid almost £44,000 in bonuses to its senior staff who met “agreed, written objectives”. It added: “In one instance these objectives relate to confiscation of criminal assets.”

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