Account Freezing Orders (AFOs)

As a result of the recent changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act, prosecuting authorities are increasingly seeking to freeze accounts whilst they are carrying out the investigations. This can have a serious impact on both individuals and companies and can lead to significant financial losses. These orders are often sought at short notice and often the account holder will not even be informed.

The team at Rustem Guardian are used to working at short notice to put together written arguments and arrange representation at contested hearings. 

This is a new and developing area but Rustem Guardian have already been instructed on various AFOs, many of which with international aspects. 

It is vital that when you are the subject of an AFO you are represented by solicitors who are able to advise you on how to approach both the order and the wider investigation. We have regularly opposed these orders relying on arguments relating to proportionality, errors in service and the absence of underlying evidence to show that the funds are criminal property.

Restraint Orders

The imposition of a restraint order on a property is a draconian step and one which must be opposed in the strongest terms. It is therefore essential that if you become subject to a restraint order you, and your family in many cases, are represented from an early stage. 

Rustem Guardian benefit from a wide network of barristers, consultants and expert witnesses which enables us to work quickly to challenge these orders. This includes where the order is granted ex parte in the Crown Court and needs to be challenged by way of variation.

We have substantial experience in opposing the continuation of these orders, as well as managing any ongoing investigation.

Cash Forfeiture

Proceedings relating to cash forfeiture often begin by funds being seized and an application being made for continued detention of these funds. Often, the best time to challenge the order is at the outset of the proceedings when the Applicant (usually police or regulatory authorities) seeks a period of 6 months to investigate the funds that have been seized.

If the Applicant is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds  to believe the funds are criminal property or intended for use in criminal conduct then they will make an application to forfeit the funds. 

Confiscation Proceedings

Where an individual has been convicted of an offence, the Prosecution are increasingly commencing confiscation proceedings. This is one of Rustem Guardian’s areas of specialism and we are considered by many to be the go-to firm for these matters.

As a result of our expertise and strength in this area, we are often able to take over confiscation proceedings even where you were represented by another firm during the trial process. 

Rustem Guardian are well versed in dealing with confiscation proceedings arising from complex substantive proceedings. Once confiscation proceedings are instigated, we have the expertise to identify the legal issues at an early stage and instruct specialist forensic accountants, drugs valuation experts and chartered surveyors where appropriate. 

Rustem Guardian have successfully challenged both the benefit figure and available amount asserted by the prosecution by conducting in depth analysis of the substantive offence, while gathering evidence on behalf of our clients who are often in custody and have difficulty obtaining documentation to assist with their defence. 

We also have the expertise to assist our clients once the confiscation order has been made – for example where an extension of ‘time to pay’ the confiscation order is required, or where the prosecution commence enforcement proceedings in the Magistrates Court.

Furthermore, we are very experienced in dealing with applications by the prosecution pursuant to Section 22 of POCA. This is where the prosecution seek to vary a confiscation order to increase the available amount and can take place many years after the order has been made.

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