£11,000 cash seizure from Chinese national studying in Brighton
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Detectives in Sussex have secured Court Orders for the confiscation of more £11,000 in two bank accounts that were opened by a Chinese national who was studying in Brighton.
Following up on information, officers from the force's Economic Crime Unit carried out an investigation into the two accounts that in 2020 had a turnover in excess of £230,000, comprising several hundred electronic credits.
The account-holder had studied as a foreign student at University in Brighton between 2017 and 2018 before returning home, but did not return to the UK, and did not co-operate with the investigation.
Officers believe that the money was being used to acquire luxury goods then sent to China in contravention of international currency and export restrictions.
The accounts were subject to an Account Freezing Order under Section Five of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), granted by Brighton Magistrates Court in December 2020. This enabled police to conduct enquiries into the source of the funds and ensured that they were not withdrawn meanwhile.
Under POCA cash and assets can be seized by law enforcement if they believe they have been acquired through criminal activity. They can then either be subject of criminal proceedings, or civil proceedings as in this case, to seek forfeiture or confiscation.
A court Forfeiture Notice was sent to the account-holder in China in April 2021 for the account balances of £7,000 and £4,098.93. As there was no response to this, the bank is now, as required by the Order, releasing the money to the police.
The money will then be sent to central government funds. As with all such seizures 50% is returned to the force and then distributed equally between the Police & Crime Commissioner and the force to support operational work and community projects.
Detective Constable Julian Harris said; "This case is an example of the way that law enforcement will pursue suspected criminal activity using civil law. Last year alone Sussex Police made cash seizures from suspected criminals of different types, of more than £300,000."