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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Section 444: External requests and orders

594.Section 444 provides for the freezing of property in the United Kingdom which may be needed to satisfy overseas orders in relation to the recovery of criminal proceeds, and for the enforcement of such orders by the realisation of property in any part of the United Kingdom. Such provision is to be made by Order in Council, and corresponds to provisions in Parts 2, 3 & 4 or Part 5 (excluding Chapter 3). Similar provisions in existing legislation are to be found in sections 39 and 40 of the Drug Trafficking Act 1994, sections 96 and 97 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, sections 40 and 41 of the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995 and Article 42 of the Proceeds of Crime (Northern Ireland) Order 1996.

595.It should be noted that there is another scheme, in section 9 of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990, for the enforcement in the United Kingdom, also by Order in Council, of forfeiture orders made overseas. However, these forfeiture orders are restricted to orders for the disposal of “instrumentalities” of crime (i.e. items used, or intended for use, in the commission of criminal offences). The Act makes no change to section 9 and does not affect the operation of the Orders in Council made under it.

596.It should also be noted that section 444 will, as in domestic cases under Parts 2 to 4 of the Act, enable restraint orders to be granted from the start of a criminal investigation. The Home Secretary may therefore, by Order in Council under this section, provide for the United Kingdom’s courts to restrain assets at the request of a foreign jurisdiction at an earlier stage in proceedings than is possible at present.

597.Under current legislation, assistance in freezing property and enforcing overseas orders may only be granted to countries and territories which have been “designated” for the purpose. Section 444 dispenses with the designation procedure and has been constructed so that asset recovery assistance can, like other forms of judicial co-operation under the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 be granted to an external jurisdiction without the need for the country concerned to be designated.

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