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Tuesday, 21 November, 2000, 19:53 GMT
Plans for new powers over crime proceeds
Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson confirmed plans for the new powers
The Northern Ireland Secretary of State has put proposals before parliament aimed at confiscating the proceeds of drug dealing and other serious crimes.

The measures are designed to strengthen the powers available to the police and customs to carry out investigations into the proceeds of crime.

One of the provisions requires lawyers to reveal whether they carried out certain transactions for clients.

On Tuesday, Peter Mandelson said: "These proposals represent important improvements in the tools available to the Government to prevent criminals profiting from their crimes.

"Law enforcement agencies must continuously adapt to deal with the changing tactics used by criminals.

"I have listened carefully to their concerns. Building on existing legislation that has already proved its worth, I am confident that these new powers will further curb the opportunities for criminals to profit from unlawful activities."

Main provisions

The plans were published on Tuesday for public consultation in the form of a Proposal for a Draft Financial Investigations (NI) Order.

The main provisions of the proposals involve:

  • Requiring solicitors in certain circumstances to confirm whether a named person has been a client for certain types of transactions.

  • Extending the current financial investigation tool of the General Bank Circular to all relevant financial institutions.

  • Extending to Customs and Excise officers the same financial investigation powers held by the Royal Ulster Constabulary under the Proceeds of Crime (NI) Order 1996.

  • Providing flexibility on the time allowed for the institution of a prosecution where those involved in criminal activity attempt to avoid prosecution by providing partial or false information in response to a request to produce documents or provide information to a financial investigator.

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