NI: New proceeds of crime powers due to come into force by end of 2020

NI: New proceeds of crime powers due to come into force by end of 2020

New powers to recover proceeds of crime – including the use of unexplained wealth orders – are set to come into force in Northern Ireland by the end of the year, Stormont’s justice committee has heard.

A significant number of provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 have been enacted in England, Wales and Scotland but not in Northern Ireland.

Most of the outstanding provisions relate to the proceeds of crime, money laundering, civil recovery, enforcement powers and related offences, and create a new range of powers for law enforcement agencies to request information and to seize money stored in bank accounts and mobile stores of value.

Cathy Galway, deputy director in the protection and organised crime division of the Department of Justice, told MLAs: “The provisions amend and add to the powers already available on a UK-wide basis under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

“This strengthens the existing provisions with the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure that law enforcement agencies and authorities have effective legal powers to deal with the threat posed by serious organised crime, and to ensure that its application in Northern Ireland is consistent with its application in the rest of the UK.

“Disrupting and preventing those seeking to move, hide or use the proceeds of crime or corruption is a key objective of government and the justice minister has said that commencing the provisions of the Criminal Finances Act in Northern Ireland is one of her key priorities.”

The Department of Justice is working with the Home Office on the commencement of relevant provisions of the legislation “later in 2020” to allow for guidance to be drawn up and scrutinised by the justice committee after the summer recess.

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