7 Dec 2016
Ann McGuffie, 69, and Simon McGuffie, 44, the family of convicted drug-smuggler Leslie McGuffie, were forced to give up £1,887,000 from two Luxembourg bank accounts, £94,831.20 from the sale of an apartment in Malaga, Spain and £9,563.49 in cash found in an apartment in Liverpool, a total of £1,991,394.69.
The assets, which contained money amassed over ten years while Leslie McGuffie was on the run, were discovered after Leslie McGuffie’s death in 2012.
They were recovered using civil recovery powers, under which a judge can order the seizure of property where there is no legitimate explanation for its ownership.
Leslie McGuffie was a career criminal who served prison sentences for robbery and drug trafficking offences. In 1993, he absconded from HMP Sudbury and fled the UK, using fraudulently obtained UK passports in six aliases. He was later imprisoned twice in the Netherlands for drug trafficking offences under two of the stolen aliases.
Upon release, he moved to the Costa del Sol, Spain, and in 2007 became subject to a European arrest warrant. In 2010 he was arrested in the UK by officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the NCA’s predecessor agency, and stood trial for absconding and fraud offences relating to the passports.
McGuffie pleaded guilty to the offences in December of that year and was sent back to prison. He was released on compassionate grounds the following year and died in 2012.
Ann McGuffie, of Ibbotsons Lane, Liverpool, was convicted in 2011 of assisting her husband by impeding his arrest. Simon McGuffie has six convictions for offences including drug trafficking and is on the NCA’s most-wanted list.
A Property Freezing Order was obtained by the NCA in October 2014. Ann and Simon McGuffie sought to distance themselves from the Luxembourg monies during the NCA investigation and have consented to the Recovery Order to avoid the matter proceeding to trial next year.
Stephanie Jeavons, deputy director for the NCA’s economic crime command, said: “Civil Recovery powers are a very effective tool which focus on criminal assets rather than individuals. Criminal profits are often funnelled back to fund further criminality, so this seizure not only removes cash from undeserving hands but puts a brake on criminal activity.”
Civil Recovery proceedings under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 provide for the recovery of property which has been acquired through unlawful conduct and therefore is, or represents, the proceeds of crime.
Unlike criminal confiscation, civil recovery is not dependant on there having been a criminal conviction and the proceedings are brought in the High Court in the form of a civil action.
The civil recovery claim focuses on the property as opposed to the person and whether property is recoverable or not is determined by the High Court on the civil standard of proof namely, the balance of probabilities. Any profit which accrues from the recoverable property is also recoverable property.
The McGuffie case was a joint referral from the NCA’s criminal investigations department and Lancashire Constabulary. The Civil Recovery Order was made on consent at the Queens Bench Division of the High Court on 25 November 2016.