Government may go after criminal wealth

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CRIMINALS LIVING lavish lifestyles could have their riches confiscated without the police having to prove the suspects are breaking the law, under plans being considered by the Government.

The head of the National Criminal Intelligence Service yesterday called for new legislation to allow the police to seize millions of pounds that are hidden by criminals in secret accounts and used to buy expensive homes.

John Abbott, the director general of NCIS, said the majority of his organisation's 160 most important criminal targets have hidden fortunes acquired via illegal activities, often from drug dealing. He highlighted a number of so called "rags to riches" stories in which suspected criminals who were officially unemployed had hundreds of thousands of pounds in off-shore accounts.

Under the proposals being examined by the Home Office and Treasury, it would be up to the suspect to prove where their money had come from.