£80m of criminal profits seized in past decade

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MORE than £80 million of criminal profits have been recovered by the authorities over the past decade under proceeds of crime laws.

In the past year alone, more than £12m was netted from people involved in activities such as drug dealing, human trafficking and benefit fraud.

About £8m of the 2012/13 figure was confiscated from convicted criminals while a further £4m in cash and assets was to be seized through civil court orders.

The figures, revealed by the Crown Office yesterday, provide an overview of the work of the authorities in the ten years since the Proceeds of Crime Act came into force.

Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown Office’s serious and organised crime division, said: “We have taken more than £80m from criminals, which otherwise could have been reinvested in their criminal enterprises.

“However, we have not become complacent in our success. Crime evolves and we must evolve with it.

“In the last year alone, we have seen successful confiscation orders against people who have participated in all types of crime, including drug dealing, selling counterfeit goods, embezzlement, human trafficking and benefit fraud.

“We will continue to use our experience and expertise to maximise disruption to criminal enterprises.”

In the last financial year, more than £4.3m was netted from those involved in the so-called “black fish” cases, relating to large-scale undeclared landings of fish in the north of Scotland.

Confiscation orders totalling £4.31m were made last year against a number of vessel skippers, as well as Shetland Catch Ltd and Fresh Catch Ltd.

The Civil Recovery Unit will also recover £5.6m after Aberdeen-based drilling company Abbot Group accepted it had benefited from corrupt payments made in connection with a 2006 contract entered into by one of its overseas subsidiaries and an overseas oil and gas company. The money will be paid in three stages to the end of March 2015.

The ownership and structure of Abbot is said to have changed significantly since that time.

In another notable case, the home of gangland figure Kevin “Gerbil” Carroll, who was shot in a supermarket car park in 2010, was seized by authorities last year.

Solicitor General Lesley Thomson said: “My message is clear – if you try to make a profit from crime, the Crown will use this legislation to the maximum to take that profit from you and ensure it is put to a much better use in communities across Scotland through the Scottish Government’s CashBack scheme.”

The CashBack for Communities initiative takes money recovered through proceeds of crime legislation and invests it in activities and facilities for young people at risk of turning to a life of crime.