The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has brought two contempt of court applications before Southwark Crown Court regarding 10 breaches by an individual of a restraint order obtained under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).

All 10 breaches were in respect of the individual's failure to disclose financial interests as required by the restraint order, which frustrated the FCA’s ability to identify and secure assets required to be frozen by the order.

A restraint order is used to freeze and preserve assets so that in the event of criminal conviction, a confiscation order can be made and the individual deprived of the benefit of their crime. It can be made against a suspect in an investigation or defendant during proceedings. It prevents the assets from being used or disposed of either in the UK or overseas, whilst the matter is ongoing. The interests of third parties, often family members or business partners, can be affected by the restraint order.

The FCA has stated that these proceedings were conducted in private, that they are not identifying the individual concerned and will not provide further comment on this case while its investigations are ongoing.

Restraint orders include the clear warning that it is a contempt of court to knowingly assist in or permit a breach of the order, which carries the risk of imprisonment or a fine.

In this case, whilst the investigation is ongoing and there have been no criminal charges or convictions arising, an individual has been sent to prison for multiple breaches of the restraint order. This sends a very clear message as to how seriously the FCA and the Courts treat breaches.

We are very experienced in advising clients affected by such proceedings. Please do get in touch if you have any questions about restraint or confiscation proceedings.