Proceeds of crime forfeited

Police have seized millions of dollars worth of assets - including almost $1 million from criminals in Otago and Southland - since a tough new law came into force.

The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act took effect on December 1, 2009. Assets worth an estimated $29 million have been forfeited, including cash ($10.48 million), properties ($13.67 million) and vehicles ($2 million).

Police Minister Anne Tolley told the Otago Daily Times she was pleased with the impact the Act was having on criminals and their activities.

''We are getting the message across that criminals will be punished for their actions, both by being locked up and by having to hand over any profits from their crimes.

''I think the public will be satisfied that criminals and gangs are being put out of business.''

Figures released to the ODT under the Official Information Act show 14 assets with an estimated value of $862,105.22 have been forfeited in the Southern district.

That includes $115,000 in cash/bank accounts, $23,305 from a commercial property, $648,800.22 from four residential properties, and $75,000 in profit forfeiture orders.

One property forfeited to the Crown was the former Mongrel Mob gang pad in Middleton Rd, Corstorphine, the first property seized by Southern police and the second in New Zealand. The property, which had a rateable value of $195,000, was later sold at auction for $74,000.

The value of assets forfeited in the Southern district was ahead of six other police districts, including Auckland, but behind Waikato ($7.4 million) Bay of Plenty ($3.4 million) and Counties Manukau ($1.8 million).

More than $9.1 million of the total amount forfeited had been referred to police from external agencies.

Mrs Tolley said the Act was clearly a deterrent for criminals as ''their boats, cars, motorbikes, properties, and cash aren't going to be waiting for them when they are released from prison''.

''There is no benefit for these people getting involved in crime, and they are getting exactly what they deserve. It's only a matter of time before the police catch up with them.''

-hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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