Although Mr. Murria is a specialist in matters relating to POCA 2002 he has acted for many clients facing serious allegations which have included Money Laundering, Conspiracy to Defraud, Fraud by False Representation, Evasion of VAT, Evasion of Tax, Evasion of Duty, Conspiracy to Supply Class A and B Drugs, Importation of Class A and B drugs, Trade Mark offences. Mr. Murria has prepared many cases for trial leading to favourable outcomes for his clients.
Mr Murria has prepared many cases for final hearings relating to Confiscation Proceedings. The main areas which require attention are the Benefit Figure, The Available Amount, any assertions advanced by the Prosecution in relation to Hidden Assets. Mr Murria has acted for clients where the Prosecution figures advanced have been substantially reduced due to the preparation undertaken by Mr Murria. Crown Court Judges have commended Mr Murria for the preparation and presentation of material which has been relied upon. Mr Murria has also acted for clients with regards to Third Party Interests, Certificates of Inadequacy, Section 23 POCA 2002 applications, Enforcement proceedings and most applications relating to POCA 2002.
Confiscation follows conviction for an offence. In making an order the court must decide whether the defendant has a ‘criminal lifestyle’, based on a number of legislative triggers, including specific types of offences. In cases which trigger the criminal lifestyle provisions, the court applies assumptions about property transferred to the defendant in the 6 years up to the day proceedings were commenced when assessing the ‘recoverable amount’, unless the assumptions are shown to be incorrect by the defendant or there would be a serious risk of injustice if they were applied.
Applying the assumptions may mean that a confiscation order is made in a larger sum than the proceeds of the specific crime for which the offender was convicted. Where the court decides that the offender does not have a criminal lifestyle the court must decide whether the offender has benefited from his particular criminal conduct - the specific crime for which he was convicted.Where the offender fails to pay the confiscation order they may be subject to a sentence of imprisonment (the ‘default sentence’). This is not an alternative to paying the order, and the order remains extant despite the serving of the default sentence.
A restraint order is an order which has the effect of freezing the assets and bank accounts of the persons against whom it is directed, in consequence of a belief by the authorities that some crime has been committed from which a person has benefited financially. A restraint order is therefore related to criminal investigations and criminal proceedings. It has some parallels to a Mareva injunction which might be obtained against a defendant in civil proceedings. Mr. Murria has acted for many clients subject to such orders and he has been successful in applications to vary and discharge such orders
Property Freezing Orders
A Property Freezing Order is an order which has the effect of freezing the assets and bank accounts of the persons against whom it is directed and are normally obtained by the National Crime Agency when they are seeking a Civil Recovery Order under Part 5 POCA 2002. Mr. Murria has been instructed by clients from the outset once the orders have been served and he has advised clients accordingly and prepared matters for variation and exclusions.
Civil Recovery Orders
Civil recovery is a form of non conviction-based asset forfeiture which allows for the recovery in civil proceedings before the High Court of property which is, or represents, property obtained through unlawful conduct. Importantly, the proceedings are against the property itself (in rem) rather than against an individual (in person). These proceedings are civil litigation and the civil standard of proof (the balance of probabilities) applies. The court, however, will still require cogent evidence in order to be satisfied that property is on balance more likely to be the proceeds of unlawful conduct than not. To prove that property was obtained through unlawful conduct, it is not necessary to prove the commission of a particular criminal offence by a particular person on a particular occasion. It is sufficient to prove that the property was obtained through offending of a particular type (drug trafficking, fraud etc). This cannot be done solely on the basis that the person holding the property has no identifiable lawful income to warrant their lifestyle. However, the absence of any evidence from the person to explain their lifestyle, or the giving of a false explanation, allows the court to infer that the source of the income was unlawful. As the action is against the property and not the person, the person who holds the assets which are the subject of the order might not be the person who carried out the unlawful conduct, and a civil recovery order is not a conviction or a sentence.The cost and duration of civil recovery proceedings varies from case to case depending on the circumstances and complexity of the case. Mr Murria has acted for numerous clients in respect of these proceedings and prepared cases for full hearing.
Seizure & Recovery of Cash
Cash forfeiture generally provides a simple and speedy non conviction-based magistrates’ court procedure for recovering seized criminal cash. Any party wishing to contest the forfeiture must demonstrate to the court that the cash comes from a legitimate source.Cash forfeiture usually sits outside criminal proceedings. However, a person knowingly having possession of criminal property commits a money laundering offence, so a cash seizure creates the potential for a criminal investigation which may result in the making of a confiscation order in a larger sum than the seized cash. Mr. Murria has acted for clients with regards to applications for further detention of seized cash ( Section 295 POCA 2002 ), forfeiture ( Section 298 POCA 2002 ), and applications for an owner of the cash ( Section 301 POCA 2002 ).
Account Freezing Orders
In summary, this is a process which allows enforcement authorities to freeze "money" (of a value over £1,000) held in bank accounts by order of the magistrates' court and which they suspect represents property obtained through unlawful conduct. The authority is able to forfeit these funds administratively, i.e., without a final order from the court, where the recovery is unchallenged. Or alternatively, apply for a final order from the court where the forfeiture may be contentious. Mr Murria has undertaken applications regarding this process.
Serious Fraud can cover a variety of allegations in which businesses and individuals can become embroiled. Mr. Murria has acted for clients who have faced the following:
• Advance fee fraud
• Banking fraud
• Boiler room fraud
• Charity Fraud
• Computer fraud
•Conspiracy to defraud
• Copyright fraud
• Credit card fraud
• False accounting
• Fraudulent investment schemes
• Identity fraud
• Insider dealing
• Insurance and benefit fraud
• Insurance fraud
• Mortgage fraud
• Pension fraud
Mr Murria has acted for a number of clients who have faced allegations relating to cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, diesel and petrol. Cases have been fully prepared for trial on a number of occasions and where necessary attempts have been made to cap Confiscation Orders.
Money laundering is the process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. One problem of criminal activities is accounting for the proceeds without raising the suspicion of law enforcement agencies. Considerable time and effort may be put into strategies which enable the safe use of those proceeds without raising unwanted suspicion. Implementing such strategies is generally called money laundering. After money has been laundered it can be used for legitimate purposes. Law enforcement agencies of many jurisdictions have set up sophisticated systems in an effort to detect suspicious transactions or activities, and many have set up international cooperative arrangements to assist each other in these endeavours. Mr. Murria has acted for numerous clients who face allegations of money laundering ranging from £20,000.00 to many millions of pounds.
Bankruptcy & Insolvency
There are certain provisions contained within POCA 2002 which deal with individuals or companies who are bankrupt or insolvent. Mr. Murria has acted for clients who face themselves in these circumstances and has achieved favourable outcomes.