Nearly £2 million of criminal’s ill-gotten gains has been won by Greater Manchester Police and half of which will be put back into community projects.
GMP’s Economic Crime Unit was granted £1.89 million at a forfeiture hearing at Tameside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (July 6).
The money is made up of criminals’ assets and money that has been stripped by law-enforcement following civil ‘proceeds of crime’ investigations.
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All forfeited funds are sent to the Home Office and then half of the money is returned to GMP to be re-invested in a series of local policing and community projects.
The ECU’s Asset Detention and Recovery Unit (ADRU) successfully bid for the money, which was granted from 17 hearings relating to a range of investigations, including drug conspiracies and money laundering.
One hearing involved illicit gains from multi-million pound fraudster Aram Sheibani, from Trafford, who was sentenced to 37 years in jail in June after being found guilty of 20 offences.
£1,052,451.14 in cash was recovered and forfeited from a number of addresses linked to Sheibani as well as jewellery, art and high value items worth more than £51,000.
Two other hearings related to the execution of a firearms warrant in Cheetham Hill in March where £134,255 in cash was recovered and a traffic stop in Whitefield where £40,830 was recovered.
£473,000 of criminal funds were also forfeited after officers identified criminal funds – suspected to have been gained from from a ‘large-scale international money laundering ring’ involving cryptocurrency – had been deposited into a Manchester-based bank account.
Detectives believed the money to be linked to drug supply transactions and enquiries identified that the account holder did not live at the address – suspecting that the account had been fraudulently set up.
Since the start of 2021, the ECU has forfeited a total of £2,783,296.
Some of the money forfeited has since been reinvested in a range of projects, including a boxing club in Oldham for young people and the ‘GetAway’N’GetSafe’ program which delivers early intervention for young people at school.
While Proceeds of Crime hearings take place on a weekly basis, GMP said it was ‘rare’ to be granted more than £1 million.
Detective Chief Inspector Joe Harrop, of GMP’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Yesterday’s result was an astonishing achievement for the team and particularly the Asset Detention and Recovery Unit whose hard work and professionalism help yield such a staggering sum.
“Whether it’s in the form of cash, drugs, or other assets, this is money that was in the hands of serious and organised criminals who made their worth through unscrupulous and illicit means and it is a fitting conclusion that this money can now be reinvested into tackling such crime in society.
“Some of the projects that we have embarked on help us to really work with communities and target the people that need such initiatives the most, and there is no doubt that this money will help make a substantial difference to all that we serve as we continue to tackle the prevalence and causes of organised crime in Greater Manchester.”
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