The Criminal Justice Act 1987 s.2(3), under which the Serious Fraud Office could require any person to produce relevant documents for an SFO investigation, had extraterritorial application to foreign companies in respect of documents held abroad where there was a sufficient connection between the company and the UK.
A confiscation order, made in relation to an offender who had pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of duty and money laundering following his involvement in the illegal importation of hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes, was quashed as the judge had erred in his assessment of the offender’s benefit and available assets. Specifically, the judge had erred in concluding that the offender was not personally liable to pay the evaded duty.
When making a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, there had to be clear, complete and unassailable evidence that a tainted gift given to a third party could not be recovered before the order could be found to be disproportionate under s.6(5). That was a more limited restriction than the general duty to avoid a serious risk of injustice under s.10(6).
The court considered the correct approach when making a confiscation order to calculating the benefit arising from fraudulently obtained remortgage transactions, where the property had originally been acquired legitimately using untainted funds and the offender had either repaid, or had undertaken to repay, the sum due under the remortgage. The approach was the same as for mortgage transactions, namely a proportionate calculation based on the equity increase achieved in the property.
When sentencing for an offence of possession of criminal property, which related to money obtained fraudulently from elderly, vulnerable victims, a judge had properly had regard to the sentencing guidelines for the underlying offence of fraud. The level of harm associated with the offence was very significant and it warranted an upward adjustment to the top of the sentencing guidelines range for money laundering, being three years’ imprisonment.