Profits of crime will pay for accountants to stop gangsters

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GANGSTERS' ill-gotten gains will be used to employ top accountants to fight organised crime.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill says the move will create a "virtuous circle" to tackle problems such as the drugs trade and people- trafficking.

About 400,000 is to be used in 2008-09 to recruit forensic accountants, investigators and lawyers to increase the size of the Civil Recovery Unit and the National Casework Division at the Crown Office.

The Government is also to add offences indicating a criminal lifestyle to the Proceeds of Crime Act, including bribery and corruption, and distribution of child and extreme pornography.

Since the 2002 Act was implemented, more than 17m has been recovered from criminal activity in Scotland.

Most of this is ploughed back into general government spending and some has been used for projects to give youngsters alternatives to crime, such as sport.

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

The Government believes 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.

Accountants are one of the most effective weapons in the battle against organised crime. Forensic accountants work out whether a suspect should be able to afford a seemingly lavish lifestyle on their known income, and trace where that came from.

Frank McMurrow, a consultant forensic accountant for Henderson Loggie, said: "It's a very interesting idea to use money recovered from criminal cases in this way. The only issue is that there are actually very few trained forensic consultants and they may have to get some of them from south of the border."