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Proceeds of Crime

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 10 February 2009

To ask the Solicitor-General how many civil recovery actions in respect of criminal assets the Crown Prosecution Service has initiated in the first nine months of 2008-09. (254982)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has initiated no civil recovery actions in respect of criminal assets in the first nine months of 2008-09.

To ask the Solicitor-General when she expects the (a) Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office and (b) Serious Fraud Office to begin to undertake civil recovery actions in respect of criminal assets; and if she will make a statement. (254983)

The RCPO considers whether, on the facts of the cases it has before it, civil recovery proceedings are appropriate and it will continue to do so. In so doing, it bears in mind the Guidance by the Secretary of State to the Director of the Assets Recovery Agency dated 7 February 2005.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) recently completed an in-depth review of its approach to all aspects of proceeds of crime activity. This review resulted in a number of recommendations to the director, who has since formed a dedicated proceeds of crime team. The structure of this team is being finalised, with resources being drawn from across the organisation. The team will be fully operational by April 2009.

In order to undertake a civil recovery investigation, staff are required to obtain accreditation for Part 5 powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) from the National Policing Improvements Agency. The SFO is assisting in the development of the training that leads to accreditation in order to accelerate this process. To date no officers within the SFO hold accreditation under part 5 of POCA.

The organisation is expecting civil recovery action to commence once the new team is in place. The SFO does not have any assets under restraint in relation to civil recovery cases.

In October last year the SFO successfully obtained its first civil recovery settlement for £2.5 million with Balfour Beatty plc. Approximately £1 million of this settlement will be used by the SFO to invest in its asset recovery work, further strengthening its capability to conduct civil recovery investigations.