Success in resisting Proceeds of Crime Act Account Freezing Order
Quentin Hunt, instructed by King and Spalding International LLP, acted on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. DS, Pakistani oligarchs who found themselves Interested Parties in an application by the West Midlands Police to freeze substantial funds held in a bank account belonging to a prominent London Art Gallery.
West Midlands Police applied for an Account Freezing Order pursuant to Section 303Z1 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA). An AFO can be applied for if an enforcement officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that money held in an account maintained with a bank or building society is property obtained through unlawful conduct.
Despite being given very late notice of the Police application, Quentin was able to submit a powerful skeleton argument outlining why the application by the Police was flawed and how the relevant tests within POCA were not met. As a result of Quentin’s submissions the Police applied for their application to be adjourned.
During the adjournment period, working in conjunction with his instructing Solicitors, Quentin ensured that a large body of evidence and supporting materials were provided to the Police. Representations were made to the Police that that they would not be able to show that there were reasonable grounds for suspicion that these monies were obtained from unlawful conduct or recoverable property. Upon receipt of the submissions, the West Midlands Police felt that their application was no longer tenable. The application was withdrawn and the Account Freezing Order was lifted enabling Quentin’s clients access to their funds.
The Account Freezing Order legislation set out under s303Z of POCA is a complex regime which is being increasingly used by Police as an alternative to criminal enforcement. Applications are often weak and can fall apart under close legal and factual scrutiny. If you are subject to, or an Interested Party in an account freezing order case you may contact Quentin Hunt, an expert in the field, for a no obligation conversation about your case. Quentin accepts instructions through solicitors or directly from members of the public.