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Civil proceedings – the only route for fraud victims to recover overseas assets?

The Supreme Court have recently ruled that, under English criminal law, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”), the English courts cannot impose property freezing orders or civil recovery orders in respect of property situated outside the UK. The Supreme Court also held that, under POCA, the English courts have no power to make disclosure orders relating to persons outside the jurisdiction.

The ruling was made in the case of Perry and others v Serious Organised Crime Agency [2012] UKSC 35. Perry was convicted of a serious criminal fraud in Israel in 2007 and sentenced to 12 years in jail and a large fine. Later, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (“SOCA”) discovered that Perry and his family held £14 million in two bank accounts in London, as well as assets and property in other jurisdictions.

In 2008, SOCA obtained a POCA disclosure order in the High Court against the Perry family requiring them to disclose all their worldwide assets. Then in 2009, SOCA obtained a section 245A POCA freezing order against the family’s entire worldwide assets.

The family appealed and the Supreme Court has now overturned the Court of Appeal’s judgment and held that POCA cannot have extra-territorial effect.

However, this does not affect the extensive remedies available to a fraud victim to bring civil proceedings in numerous jurisdictions to identify, freeze and recover assets located outside the UK.

If you would like any further information on the services offered by PCB, please do not hesitate to contact Steven Philippsohn or Anthony Riem.