Account Freezing Orders (AFO), along with the much publicised Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO) are the latest tools in the arsenal to fight fraud and organised crime, however, there are innocent individuals being caught up in this new legislation.
How can we help you?
- Drafting a response to requests for information - Failure to provide full and accurate information can lead to an application for forfeiture and losing all the funds.
- One of our specialist Fraud & POCA Lawyers will advise you on the best course of action while considering your personal circumstances and objectives.
- We will advise if you have been served with a freezing order. We will guide you on any requirements that you must comply with and we can advise on whether the freezing order can be challenged.
What is an Account Freezing Order?
Account freezing Order and forfeiture orders are the biggest change arising from the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and have given authorities numerous additional powers by amending the Proceeds of Crime Act.
This new legislation has been created to recover ill-gotten gains from criminal activity and authorities are using these orders as an alternative to bringing criminal charges.
Essentially the legislation takes the existing powers which allow for the seizure, detention and forfeiture of cash and modifies those powers to cover the contents of a bank account. The orders are made ex parte (without notice). The first you will be made aware of the freeze is when you are served with the order or when you have difficulty accessing your account.
The threshold is identical to that set out for the seizure of cash with a minimum of £1000 and no maximum in order to freeze the account.
If a bank becomes suspicion about the source, activity or intended use of funds within a bank account they are under a duty to submit a suspicious activity report (SAR) and lodge this with the NCA. It is likely that the NCA will request a local economic crime investigation unit to consider applying for an Account Freezing Order.
Our specialist Fraud Lawyers have vast experience in dealing with all types of POCA cases and seek to provide pro-active defence representation.
How will a Freezing Order affect you?
The impact of such a restriction will almost certainly be highly crippling and stressful. Your bank will not allow you to manage your account as you typically would. Your direct debits and standing orders will be cancelled and the day to day banking facilities such as internet banking, bill payments and cash withdrawals will be suspended.
In spite of the funds belonging to you, only by making an application to the court, will you be allowed to withdraw a minimal sum each week to live on. You will more than likely be invited for an interview with the investigating body and asked intrusive questions about your assets, income and the specific financial transactions relating to your bank account. There is nothing to stop the police deciding to turn the matter into a criminal investigation.
An account freezing order can have a dramatic effect on your business or on your life as an individual. Being unable to access your own funds can leave you in very troublesome circumstances. Our Fraud Lawyers are on hand to deal with your case and apply for the release of frozen funds for you to maintain your home, lifestyle and livelihood.
Funding and account access?
An AFO may be made against any account held by any person or legal entity. Unlike criminal POCA Restraint Orders, an application can be made for a variation to the order, to allow for the payment of legal and living expenses. No public funding (legal aid) is available for such applications.
Our initial consultation with you to discuss the details of your case is free of charge, based on this information we will provide you with full details of the costs before we proceed with your case. Please call us on 0808 168 5550 to discuss your requirements, or email us using the enquiry form below.
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