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Most of us are aware of HMRC’s ability to seize cash under the authority of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA). But what about reseizure? This obscure issue was examined in December in the judicial review case of Kingdom Corporate Ltd (KCL).
On 16 January 2023 HMRC searched the business premises of KCL under s289 of POCA. A director of the company failed to inform HMRC of a hidden safe and, when officers discovered it, stated that:
there was no money in it
he did not have the keys as someone had stolen the keys from his bag years ago
the safe was last opened in 2006.
HMRC summoned a locksmith, who drilled a hole in the safe, revealing “large wads of banknotes”. At this point the director miraculously produced the missing key. The safe was then opened and found to contain “approximately £350,000 in cash and foreign currency of a further £50,000 or thereabouts”. HMRC seized the cash at 5:38 on Monday afternoon.
48-hour time limit
POCA s.294 authorises HMRC to seize cash that is reasonably suspected of being “recoverable property”, including property obtained through unlawful conduct or intended for use in unlawful conduct.
HMRC can initially hold onto the cash for a period of 48 hours (s295), which would expire at 5:38pm on Wednesday 18 January.
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