In a significant victory, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has withdrawn account forfeiture applications against two clients of Corker Binning. In early 2019, the MPS obtained account freezing orders over a number of their bank accounts, freezing in excess of £10m. The size of these orders was significant: the MPS obtained 183 account freezing orders throughout the whole of 2019, freezing approximately £17m in total. In early 2021, the MPS applied to forfeit our clients’ accounts. We prepared expert evidence concerning foreign law and forensic accounting, and detailed witness evidence, to explain why the origin of the funds was legitimate and why the MPS application was fundamentally flawed.
Several weeks later, the MPS agreed to withdraw the account forfeiture applications and applied to discharge the account freezing orders. The MPS also agreed to pay our clients a sum in settlement of their legal costs. Partner Andrew Smith said: “It should not have taken three years for the MPS to reach this conclusion. The investigation was inadequate on many levels and illustrates how dangerous account freezing orders can be if an investigator does not conduct a balanced investigation or seek expert assistance in understanding complex commercial activity.”
For more detail on account freezing and account forfeiture orders, please see here. The case was handled at Corker Binning by Andrew Smith and Anna Rothwell, who instructed Kennedy Talbot QC of 33 Chancery Lane and Rachel Barnes of Three Raymond Buildings.