News item

Breach of Restraint leads straight to jail without passing Goa

An investigation by Surrey Trading Standards Service has demonstrated the benefit of taking a robust line when a defendant breaches a restraint order issued under the Proceeds of Crime Act and has been warmly welcomed by the Financial Investigation community.

The two defendants, Mr & Mrs A, are currently charged with a number of frauds against elderly and vulnerable victims and substantial money laundering offences. The charges relate to property maintenance and repair work. A restraint order was obtained at Guildford Crown Court in October 2012 to prevent the dissipation of assets including the defendant’s home and vehicles.

However, enquiries undertaken following the service of summonses eventually established that both defendants had opened separate accounts passing £22,000 and £53,000 respectively through them following the issue of the restraint order.

The Surrey Accredited Financial Investigator sought production orders on the new accounts and identified activity that was in breach of the restraint.  Spending on one of the accounts amounted to over £7000 a month, way in excess of the £250 per week limit stipulated in the order. Neither defendant has ever attempted to vary the restraint order and both defendants pleaded guilty to contempt.  Further evidence from the accounts has identified further victims and led to additional charges of fraud and money laundering. 

Mrs A was sentenced at an earlier hearing at Guildford Crown Court for the contempt and was handed an eight month suspended prison sentence and an order to repay the £22,000 of assets that went through the account.

However, in sentencing Mr A to six months in prison, the Judge referred to the flagrant breach of the restraint order and said that the sentence must have a punitive and coercive element and serve as a deterrent to demonstrate that breaches are not overlooked. Reference was also made to the defendant’s spending habits of £7000 per month and the fact he had taken holidays in Barcelona and Goa during this time.

The trial for the fraud and money laundering matters is due to take place early next year.

DATE: 09 October 2014