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What is a restraint order? Our fraud solicitor explains
19 Dec 2022

The world of fraud, especially business and corporate fraud, is significant.

In 2021, fraud by businesses in the UK was estimated to cost HMRC several billion pounds, meaning that there has been a lot of time and effort put into investigating businesses and corporations to ensure that all of the tax has been paid and to prevent the movement of money and assets if a company is suspect.

This is where restraint orders come in, and if you are under investigation for money laundering, tax evasion or other financially based activities of wrongdoing, our team can help.

At ABV Solicitors, our fraud solicitor has extensive knowledge of what to do when an order cannot be discharged, and we will work to defend you and your business to minimise the damage that such procedures will have on you, your business enterprise and your family.

So, what exactly is a restraint order, how can it be discharged, and what are the instances wherein authorities will usually seek to imprison someone following such an order? Our fraud solicitor answers these questions and many more below.

What is a restraint order?

If you are being investigated for fraudulent activity such as money laundering or have an unexplained wealth order, it is likely that a restraint order will be placed on your accounts or that of your business.

According to our fraud solicitor, this means that the prosecuting body will freeze your accounts to prevent you from moving or transferring money until they are satisfied that either you are not involved in fraudulent activity or the prosecution goes ahead.

Why would a restraint order be placed?

Having a restraint order placed is no small thing, and in the Proceeds of Crime Act, several conditions have to be met for the prosecutors and authorities to place a restraint order on you or your business.

There has to be a reasonable cause to believe that the offender (you or your business) has benefited from criminal conduct and that a criminal investigation has started against you in either England or Wales.

Of course, even if there is reasonable proof that there has been criminal activity related to assets, you can still challenge the order being placed, and our team will seek to do just that by assessing the validity of the order itself. If we determine that the evidence is lacking relating to these factors, we will seek to discharge it or have it removed.

What is prohibited under a restraint order?

As mentioned before, if you have had a restraint order placed, you will not be able to transfer money out of a frozen account, and you will not be able to sell or dispose of assets that are thought to have been bought with the money associated with the restraint order. So, if you bought a home with the alleged proceeds of criminal activity, you will not be able to sell it until the restraint order is lifted.

If it is found through an investigation that the money was obtained illegally, there will likely be a prison sentence and a fine.

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