- April 7, 2014
- Category: Latest
One of the biggest changes to law and order in recent times has been the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act. There have been a great number of cases involved with this Act but with every passing case, its importance and relevancy is becoming ever more apparent. There have been scores of criminals who have undertaken large crimes who have been more than happy to see out their time in prison because they know that their money was hidden away, waiting for their release. Spending time in prison is never pleasant but when you know you have a great deal of money waiting for you, the time spent inside can certainly a lot more pleasant than what it should be.
However, that has all changed with Proceeds of Crime Act giving officers and the courts more power for confiscating money from criminals. This adds further disincentive and will probably have played a role in some people deciding that a life of crime or a particular job wasn’t particularly worth it. It has also helped to properly punish a lot of people who made huge sums of money through fraud or serious crime. This sort of punishments is more likely to have an impact on the actions of criminals and it is something that should be heralded as being a very positive thing. If the ill-gotten gains from criminal behaviour are seen to be stripped from the criminals, less people will think that this is a line of activity they should look to engage in. If the ill-gotten gains from criminal behaviour can be used to benefit a local community or people who have been affected by crime, all the better.
A Life in the Sun Funded by Funny Money
An example of this recently comes with the story of the conman who used a multi-million fraud to fund his stylish, lavish and expensive lifestyle. John Hirst was able to enjoy a sunnier time in Mallorca but a lot of his money was coming from investors he had ripped off. Hirst had made a great deal of money from a Ponzi style scam and in August of 2012, he was sentenced to 9 years in prison. The fact that Hirst had swindled friends and family members alongside other people indicates the level of the man and all in all, it is believed that he swindled close to £5m from people.
Hirst was present in court, having been brought along from custody to attend at Bradford Crown Court where the final hearings of the POCA case were taking place. The full financial figure which was agreed at court with the Serious Fraud Office saw a total of £4,717,042 being listed as the benefit figure. However, this was met with a reply that Hirst only held assets of £650,522.94. This is attributed to close to £200,000 which is currently being held by the investigators of the case and the rest of the assets are broken down to cash gifts presented to other people, money in various accounts and some high profile items. An example of this would be a speedboat, which is valued at around £20,000.
Hirst could Suffer more Time in Prison
With this in mind, the presiding judge agreed that the compensation order should be held at the level of the assets and that Hirst has a total of six months in which to pay this amount. If Hirst fails to pay this money on time, he will be sentenced to a further 4 years in prison. The money will be paid out to the investors in a pro-rata style.
Given that there has also been compensation orders raised against the estranged wife of Hills and an accomplice, Richard Pollett, it is likely that a sum of around £1.5m will be obtained and this will be used to refund investors of the Ponzi scheme.
At the court hearing, the suggestion of hidden money and assets was raised but there was no trace or notification of these assets. However, it was pointed out in court that the overall benefit figure of £4.7m should be considered a debt that will stay with Hirst for the rest of his life. This means that if the money does surface at a later date, another confiscation order may be made to ensure that investors are refunded as much as possible.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professional for 8 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.
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