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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008, 15:31 GMT
Seized cash to fund crimefighters
Haul of banknotes
The Act allows cash and goods linked to illegal activity to be seized
Money that has been seized from organised criminals is to be used to expand two crimefighting units.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the move would create a "virtuous circle" to tackle problems such as the drugs trade and people trafficking.

About 400,000 will be used to recruit forensic accountants, investigators and lawyers for the Civil Recovery Unit and the Crown Office's Casework Division.

More than 17m has been seized through the Proceeds of Crime Act since 2002.

The Scottish Government is also to add new offences indicating a criminal lifestyle to the act, including bribery and corruption and distribution of child and extreme pornography.

"The Civil Recovery Unit and National Casework Division are vital weapons in the fight against organised crime," Mr MacAskill said.

"How fitting then to use some of these criminals' own assets to further increase our capability to disrupt crime and recover even more of the proceeds of crime.

Kenny MacAskill
We want to ensure that organised criminals feel the full force of the law
Kenny MacAskill

"It's a win, win situation for the law abiding many - and galling for the parasites of serious crime."

The government believes that expertise in areas such as forensic accountancy will make it increasingly difficult for organised criminals to hide their money in legitimate businesses they set up.

The justice secretary also said extending the range of crimes covered under the Proceeds of Crime Act would provide a "further weapon" for the authorities.

"Organised crime is not about drugs and trafficking," he said.

"Its tentacles stretch to crimes such as fraud, pornography and also using legitimate businesses as fronts for money laundering.

"By extending the range of offences indicative of a criminal lifestyle, we want to ensure that organised criminals, involved in many different types of crimes, feel the full force of the law."

Graeme Pearson, the former director of the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency, said the new recruits would make a difference.

"The use of forensic accountants and lawyers increases the capacity for the Crown Office in prosecuting and locating these assets," he said.

"So one would hope to see a big lift in the assets recovered in the years to come."

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