Last Thursday brought long-running proceedings to a conclusion when, at the doors of the court, HM Revenue & Customs confirmed they would not oppose an appeal by GW & CW, in respect of cash which had originally been seized as they were about to board a flight to Thailand.
This was an unusual case, in that there was no suggestion of money laundering. HMRC suggested that the money (in excess of £55,000 in cash) represented criminal property, in that it was not properly declared to HMRC for tax purposes. That was to ignore the period of delay before monies become due for declaration as income to HMRC.
In this instance, the inevitable delay to the process caused by Covid-19 worked to the advantage of the appellants. By the time the appeal was to be heard (by coincidence, at the Nightingale Court at the recently transformed Lowry theatre) the position had been regularised with HMRC. Tax returns had been filed and the necessary tax has been paid. On that basis, HMRC had little option but to concede that the basis for forfeiture of the money was no longer valid. The argument that the money was “recoverable property” was without merit.
The appeal being allowed, the money which had been seized in the airport and ordered forfeit in the Magistrates’ Court, will now be returned, in full, to the appellants.
Richard Dawson is an expert trial lawyer, specialising in regulatory law and professional misconduct; defending corporate and individual defendants facing regulatory investigation and prosecution.
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