Clause 302 - Property obtained through unlawful conduct

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 10 January 2002.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:45, 10 January 2002

I do not know whether I can satisfy the hon. Gentleman without returning to the explanation that we used in an earlier part of the

Bill. Unless we say that property that represents recoverable property is itself recoverable, we will not succeed, because people will be very effective at hiding the proceeds of crime. Therefore, there is a need for mobility, so that such property can be chased through. At some point, for various reasons, property ceases to be recoverable. The example that has been flagged up is when a property has been acquired by a bona fide purchaser for value—and why not?

However, the chain then goes off in another direction and I suggested that it was like the branches of a tree. Selling property to a bona fide purchaser for value would provide a return, which would then represent the original property that was the proceeds of crime. The tracing should be allowed to continue. The innocent bona fide purchaser for value will be free of any ability to claim back that which has fallen into his hands, but the eventual profits of that original criminality should be traced.

The hon. Gentleman is right. He is worried about a situation when a legitimate person who acquires property in a legitimate way for full value, not knowing it to be the proceeds of crime. I can assure him that such property is not recoverable. We will discuss the matter when we consider the amendments to clause 306. Heaven only knows how we remove the opprobrium from such situations. As the hon. Gentleman and I know, people still suggest that the Elgin marbles and the Koh-i-noor diamond and other items were obtained by semi-legitimate or illegitimate means. Debate will continue about that and about the circumstances in which something is chased because it is the proceeds of crime.