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Our Economic Crime Unit has been granted almost £2million of criminal's ill-gotten gains at a forfeiture hearing in Greater Manchester this week, half of which can be re-invested into policing and community projects across the region.
The massive sum was awarded yesterday (Tuesday 6 July) at Tameside Magistrates' Court after successful bids by the ECU's Asset Detention and Recovery Unit (ADRU).
Coming to a total of £1.89million, the money is made up of the value of criminals' assets and money that has been stripped by law-enforcement in Greater Manchester following civil 'proceeds of crime' investigations.
All forfeited funds are sent to the Home Office and half is returned to GMP to be re-invested in a range of policing and community projects as part of our wider approach at tackling serious and organised crime.
Our officers from the ECU were triumphant at all 17 forfeiture hearing slots that took place yesterday, relating to a range of investigations including drug conspiracies and money laundering.
The hearing involved the illicit gains from high-profile cases, such as that of multi-million pound fraudster Aram Sheibani from Trafford, who was sentenced to 37 years in jail last month after being found guilty of 20 offences.
A total of £1,052,451.14 in cash recovered from a number of addresses linked to him was forfeited yesterday as well as jewellery, art and high value items worth over £51,000.00.
Also considered as part of the hearing were a number of high value cash seizures, as well as nearly half a million in bank balances being frozen by specialist officers in the ADRU.
Two of the cash seizures relate to the recovery of £134,255 cash following the execution of a firearms warrant by our Serious and Organised Crime Group in Cheetham Hill in March, and the recovery of £40,830 following a traffic stop by officers in the Whitefield area in the same month.
The bank balance forfeiture relates to officers from the ADRU identifying that £473,000 of criminal funds had been deposited in a Manchester account.
Detectives believe this was from large-scale international money laundering ring involving cryptocurrency, likely linked to drug supply transactions.
Enquiries showed the account holder did not live at the address and the account is suspected of being set up fraudulently.
So far in 2021, the ECU has forfeited £2,783,296, some of which is to be reinvested into a range of projects, including a boxing club in Oldham for young people turning away from crime, and the 'GetAway'N'GetSafe' program in Manchester which delivers early intervention for young people at school to educate them of the dangers and consequences of drugs, exploitation, gangs and anti-social behaviour.
Proceeds of Crime hearings take place on a weekly basis and usually involve sums of a few thousand pounds, with some resulting in figures as high as £140,000, but it is a rare and emphatic result to be granted over £1million.
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."