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.
What is an AFO?
Account freezing 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.
Initial Telephone Consultation
If you have been served with an Account Freezing Order, time is of the essence. You must take expert legal advice immediately to defend your financial interests.
Our highly skilled Fraud Defence team are here to take the worry off your hands. We can provide an initial telephone consultation to see how we can assist in your case. For more information, please call our head of fraud Sundeep Soor on 0808 1685550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
How can we help?
Drafting a response to requests for information requires an expert POCA Lawyer, trained to identify any risks to your personal interests and to preserve your legal and financial position. Failure to provide full and accurate information can lead to an application for forfeiture and losing all the funds.
Regardless of where and how your case begins, with the specialist Fraud & POCA Lawyers at Cartwright king, you can be assured that your Lawyer will advise you on the best course of action while considering your personal circumstances and objectives.
Cartwright King will advise you 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.
Understanding what’s happening
We will explain everything to you so that you are fully aware of what’s happening. We will advise you as to the possible outcomes and suggest the best possible course of action at each stage of your matter.
We act on behalf of individuals and companies facing all matter of fraud allegations, investigations and prosecutions. We also act for insurers, banking groups, investment companies, and regulated professionals including mortgage brokers, surveyors, accountants, solicitors, estate agents, medical professionals and financial advisors.
We are regularly called upon to act in multi-million pound frauds including acting on both high profile and international cases.
How to make contact
If you or your company are the victim of an Account Freezing Order and investigation it can be a stressful time when it happens without notice. That is why our experienced team are available to defend your interests 24 hours a day, anywhere in the UK or abroad.
Sundeep Soor (Director) is the Head of Fraud and Tax at Cartwright King. Sundeep and his team are on hand across the country to help you and can assist wherever you are based. Please call us for a no obligation, initial discussion on 0808 168 5550 or email email@example.com and we will call or email you back.