The U.K.’s Criminal Finances Act 2017 provides law enforcement with new powers to obtain orders to freeze bank accounts and apply for forfeiture orders, permanently depriving the account holder of the funds contained in the account. These draconian new powers have received little publicity and contain fewer safeguards than unexplained wealth orders and the civil recovery process under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), discussed in Parts I and II of this series. The powers are controversial and, unlike other asset recovery powers available to U.K. enforcement authorities, applications are made in the magistrates’ court rather than the High Court. Magistrates are volunteers without legal qualifications.
How do account freezing orders (AFOs) work? On what basis is an AFO application made? Do AFOs amount to anything more than daylight robbery? To explore the answers to these questions, click here for the full alert.