Government goes after the villains’ cash with new zeal
People could receive a share of recovered money if they blow the whistle on major fraud against the Government or its agencies.
The proposal forms part of a possible shake-up to the rules on seizing criminal profits and to put asset recovery at the heart of the criminal justice system. The aim is to double the money seized from criminals to £250m a year by 2010.
The news comes as the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA), set to be scrapped this year, aid it had met its targets for the first time. The Agency has been roundly criticised, especially in a report from the National Audit Office, for costing more to run than it recovered.
In 2007-07, the amount recovered was £15.9m, against its budget of £15.5m, and it froze criminal assets worth £73.6m.
“If we are going to make that kind of step-change, we have to mainstream this all across the law enforcement community,” said ARA director Alan McQuillan.
The ARA is being rolled into the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) – often called the UK’s FBI – a body which is putting financial investigators in every one of its operational teams and insists that tracking criminal assets will be a priority in each case it undertakes.