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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 20:45 GMT 21:45 UK
Record 'proceeds of crime' haul
Haul of banknotes (Picture : HM Revenue)
Some of the cash seized under the act is sent to the UK Treasury
Cash and assets valued at more than 6m were seized from criminals last year, according to Crown Office figures.

The record sum brings the total amount of money confiscated from drug dealers, money launderers and fraudsters to 15.5m since the law changed.

2003 saw the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act Scotland, which gives courts powers to seize assets.

It allows authorities to take cash and goods linked to illegal activity and invest them in crime-hit communities.

Last year 4.4m was confiscated from convicted criminals by Crown Office prosecutors.

A further 1.7m was collected by the Civil Recovery Unit after courts ruled that the cash was linked to crime.

Community projects

Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said: "The latest figures send a strong message - we will track down illegal assets and we will deprive criminals of their cash and possessions.

"Working closely with the police and other enforcement agencies, the Civil Recovery Unit and the National Casework Division are targeting the profits of criminal activity at all levels in our communities, from the street dealers and cash couriers to those who commit complex frauds.

She added: "The Proceeds of Crime Act is allowing us to tackle those who try to profit from illegal activity."

The 2003 Act was introduced to make it easier for courts to take hold of the assets of convicted criminals.

The act also gives powers to seize assets without a conviction or even a trial, if a judge rules that cash or goods were probably gained through illegal means.

Items seized over the years have included homes, designer watches, quad bikes and a half-share in a fishing vessel.

Criminal proceeds can be invested in community projects aimed at alleviating the effects of crime, to a maximum of 17m each year.

Any surplus is sent to the UK Treasury.

Major hauls under the Proceeds of Crime Act Scotland

  • Computer company director Michael Voudouri was ordered to hand over more than 1m in November 2006 after pocketing three times that amount in a VAT scam.

    Voudouri, from Bridge of Allan near Stirling, bought computer chips from abroad, purchasing them VAT-free under EU regulations.

    He then charged his UK customers VAT but failed to declare and pay this to Inland Revenue.

    He was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to fraud in 2004.

    The sum of 1,292,942 was later seized, including his 900,000 mansion.

  • Businessmen John Meikle and Rifat Ullah Khan Burki had more than 670,000 seized in April 2006, despite not having faced criminal charges.

    About 673,000 was recovered through the civil court after a customs investigation into the import and export of computer parts by Meikle's UK Limited.

    The Kilmarnock homes of the men were searched and their bank accounts frozen in July 2003.

  • Cancer charity fundraiser Tony Freeman was ordered to hand over 210,000 after admitting a 450,000 fraud scandal.

    He pleaded guilty in September to removing the cash from his ailing company and banking it overseas.

    Freeman, from Glasgow, pretended to staff at Solutions Recruitment and Management Consultancy that the money was needed to pay for computer software.

  • Dundee businessman Paul Anthony Cox had 10 flats in the city confiscated in June 2006.

    Prosecutors said Mr Cox had a legitimate income but was able to buy the properties only from his involvement in drug-related crime.

    He was jailed for three-and-a-half years in 2004, after being caught with 83,000 of cannabis resin in a Dundee hospital car park.

    An estimated 150,000 was raised from the sale of the flats once the outstanding mortgage payments were settled.

  • Marcus Kelman from Glasgow had two homes and a designer watch confiscated after being accused of profiting from drug crimes.

    He had property and goods worth more than 140,000 seized after an order was granted by the Court of Session.

    Kelman was acquitted of drugs-related charges in 2004 but a civil action was launched to recover some of his possesions.

    An estimated 100,000 was collected from the sale of the flats in the Ibrox and Carmyle areas.

    A further 40,000 was seized from Mr Kelman's bank account, along with a diamond-encrusted Rolex watch said to be worth about 4,000.




SEE ALSO
Serious crime plan to be unveiled
05 Jun 07 |  Scotland
10m confiscated from criminals
06 Feb 07 |  Scotland
City brothel woman pays thousands
25 Jan 07 |  North East/N Isles
1.8m confiscated from criminals
26 Oct 06 |  Scotland
Record criminal proceeds seized
08 Sep 06 |  Scotland
New powers to seize criminal cash
31 Jul 06 |  Scotland
Drug flat sale to benefit public
30 Jun 06 |  Tayside and Central
Communities promised seized cash
14 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Crime proceeds case is UK first
05 Jan 04 |  Scotland

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