Supplementary memorandum submitted by HM Customs and Excise
When I appeared before the Committee on 25 February, I promised to provide more information on the level of confiscation orders in response to Question 230.
I referred in my evidence to the significant interaction between our procedures and court procedures in this area and it may be helpful by way of introduction to explain in more detail how Customs, in conjunction with the courts, set about confiscating the proceeds of criminal activity.
Having prosecuted a case, Customs will provide the court with a statement identifying where we believe a convicted defendant has benefited from their criminal activity. If the court decides that the defendant has benefited, it will then decide by how much. The court will then also decide the amount to be recovered and this decision may be affected by information about the defendant's realizable assets. If these are greater than the value from the benefit from crime, the amount of the confiscation order will be equal to the benefit assessed by the court. Where the amount which might be realized is less than the assessed benefit, the confiscation order will be equal to the value of the realizable assets.
Confiscation orders arising from cases of Hydrocarbon Oils fraud amounted to £49,000 for the calendar year 2001.
Customs are currently investigating 16 cases of fraud relating to Hydrocarbon Oils and are prosecuting a further 29 at this time. The majority of the latter are at the pre-trial and pre-committal stage so have not yet reached the point at which a confiscation order will have been made.
Mr Richard Broadbent
HM Customs and Excise