Summary of an Opinion issued by Lady Stacey at the Court of Session

In this action Scottish Ministers sought a recovery order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. That act provides for recovery by Minsters of property which has been proved to have been obtained by unlawful conduct. It is a civil law procedure and does not require conviction of any crime.  If the court is satisfied that property is recoverable property as defined, then it must make a recovery order.   Recoverable property is defined as property obtained through unlawful conduct.  

Mr Stirton and Mr Anderson were investigated by the police between 2003 and 2005 in Operation Maple, a police operation concerned with allegations of money laundering and of extortion.   They appeared on petition and were released on bail.   No indictment was ever served on them.  

The proof was heard between 19 May 2009 and 20 May 2011.   During that period the court sat on over 130 days, either to hear evidence or argument in the course of evidence. 

The unlawful conduct which the Scottish Ministers have proved to have taken place comprises involvement in the importation of controlled drugs and a handgun; involvement in unlawful conduct evidenced by possession of a large quantity of cash in circumstances redolent of involvement in controlled drugs; extortion of money from Spring Radio Cars; laundering of money by buying cars using cash obtained from unlawful conduct and obtaining money for the resale of the cars, and laundering of money by developing a filling station using money obtained from unlawful conduct, then operating and ultimately selling the filling station; and fraud on lending institutions by falsely declaring income and ownership of assets.

The court found that there is recoverable property and will make a recovery order over money and property being satisfied that there had been unlawful conduct consisting of involvement in importation of controlled drugs and a firearm, extortion, fraud and money laundering. The court found that the money and property was acquired as a result of that unlawful conduct.

Scottish Minsters will identify a person suitable to be appointed as trustee and an interlocutor will be issued outlining the terms and extent of the recovery order.

If the respondents wish to appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session the time limit for an appeal will start when the interlocutor making the recovery order is issued

The full Opinion is now available here


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