At Maidstone Magistrates' Court on 14 October, the NCA obtained a cash forfeiture order in relation to the sum of almost €560,000.

The cash was seized by UK Border Force officers back in February 2019 after they stopped a Dutch national at the Channel Tunnel as he was about to drive onto a Eurotunnel train. The cash was found in a suitcase in the boot of his car and the NCA believe the money to be the proceeds from criminal activity in Ireland. 

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 ( POCA), UK law enforcement agencies can seize cash and assets from individuals or organisations if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they represent the proceeds of crime or are intended for use in criminal activity.  This is a relatively low threshold. Cash and assets can be detained for up to two years whilst investigations are ongoing as to the source. 

By the expiry of the two-year period, the cash and assets must be returned or the law enforcement agency concerned must apply to the court for forfeiture.

In this case, the man initially asserted that the cash found was his savings! As no credible explanation or evidence had been advanced as to the source of the cash and its legitimacy, the NCA commenced civil proceedings under POCA for the cash, which was detained to be forfeited. The application was not contested. 

The NCA and other law enforcement agencies are increasingly using civil powers as an effective tool to forfeit large sums of cash without having to prosecute anyone and prove their guilt to the criminal standard.