Brian Sims

CPS publishes prosecution data for first quarter of 2021-2022

THE CROWN Prosecution Service has published its prosecution data covering the first quarter of 2021-2022. The statistics, which run from 1 April to 30 June, show completed prosecutions are now similar to pre-pandemic levels, with 109,685 cases finalised this quarter compared to 107,497 in the last three months before the pandemic.

Live prosecution caseloads by the end of June stood at 157,003. That’s down from a high of nearly 185,000 in August 2020, but considerably up on the 109,469 outstanding cases in March 2020.

The decrease is mainly driven by a reduction in Magistrates’ Court cases, with the number of outstanding Crown Court cases rising to 70,011 on 30 June.

Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “We are continuing to see steady progress in reducing our live caseload, primarily driven by more completed prosecutions in Magistrates’ Courts, which reflects the tireless efforts of our staff through this most difficult period. However, we recognise the scale of the challenge in Crown Courts and are working closely with partners across the criminal justice system to safely reduce the number of outstanding cases.”

Proceeds of crime

The Crown Prosecution Service, the City of London Police and the private sector have recently worked together, using specialist powers, to achieve the largest ever proceeds of crime forfeiture in the UK.

Du Toit & Co LLP (a South African law firm operating from UK offices) and Xiperias Ltd (a Cypriot registered company, which claimed ownership of the bulk of the funds) both agreed to forfeit €34 million (the equivalent of £28.75 million) in order to settle litigation alleging that the funds in two bank accounts were from unlawful conduct.

The Crown Prosecution Service assisted the City of London Police in obtaining Account Freezing Orders on the two accounts on 16 June 2020 and helped conduct an expeditious investigation involving lines of enquiry in multiple jurisdictions across three continents.

By collaboratively working with partners from Europol, foreign law enforcement agencies and stakeholders from the private sector, the investigation identified overwhelming evidence that the monies were unlawfully obtained from international money laundering and layered through the UK banking system to present a veneer of legitimacy.

Account Forfeiture Orders were applied for by Crown Prosecution Service Proceeds of Crime specialists and the City of London Police in March this year at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. They were granted by consent on Friday 22 October 2021. Xiperias Ltd and Du Toit & Co. LLP agreed that over €34 million in the two bank accounts were the proceeds of unlawful conduct carried out by others, of which they had neither knowledge nor suspicion.

This was the first time that the Crown Prosecution Service has used powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to appear in court on behalf of the police in an Account Forfeiture Order.

Sending a clear message

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service’s Proceeds of Crime Division, said: “This case sends a clear message that a company or individual does not have to have been convicted for us to pursue, seize and take the proceeds of crime passing through the city of London. The Crown Prosecution Service has the ability to use its specialist knowledge and experience to assist police forces to tackle international illicit finance and economic crime. We will continue to work together to use the full range of our powers to disrupt criminals’ ability to benefit from their illegal activity both at home and abroad.”

Temporary Commander Clinton Blackburn from the City of London Police added: “Money laundering, the process of legitimising money gained from criminal activities, is integral to organised crime. This case sends out a strong message that we will continue to pursue those involved in enabling financial crime. The City of London Police and its partners will continue to cut access to money laundering routes, which is key to defeating organised crime at source.”

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