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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Proceeds of Crime (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (SI 1996/1299 (NI 9))

674.The Proceeds of Crime (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 updated and restated the law relating to the confiscation of the proceeds of drug trafficking and other serious crime. Part 4 of the Act largely replaces the existing provisions in Parts II and III of the 1996 Order. Article 49 of the 1996 Order, as amended by the Financial Investigations (Northern Ireland) 2001, introduced additional investigation powers through the appointment by a county court judge of a financial investigator to assist the police or customs in investigations into the proceeds of crime. While retaining those financial investigation powers for criminal confiscation investigations applications will be made to a Crown Court judge, consistent with the process set out at Part 8 of the Act. Financial investigators will be required to be accredited within the meaning given by section 3(5) of the Act. Confiscation investigations are defined by reference to section 341 of the Act.

675.The powers of a financial investigator are found at Schedule 2 to the 1996 Order. The Schedule 2 paragraph 3 power, commonly referred to as the “General Bank Circular” shall cease to have effect as it is largely duplicated by the customer information order introduced at section 363 of the Act. The Schedule 2 paragraph 3A power is amended to reflect the terminology used elsewhere in the Act to ensure that the question of whether a person has benefited from criminal conduct is decided in accordance with Part 4 of the Act. The amendments ensure that the Director of ARA will have the same powers for criminal confiscation investigations as the other law enforcement authorities in Northern Ireland.

676.Articles 50 and 51 of the 1996 Order are amended to retain, as in England and Wales, the powers for police and customs to obtain production orders and search warrants for the purpose of an investigation into drug trafficking offences. The definition of ‘drug trafficking offence’ is amended to reflect the new approach to money laundering adopted in the Act.

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