MP slams crime cash agency

A government body set up to recover the proceeds of crime was today branded as a “total shambles” by South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.

A government body set up to recover the proceeds of crime was today branded as a “total shambles” by South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.

His comments came as a new report found the Assets Recovery Agency has missed its targets for recovering criminals' assets and that nearly all the financial investigators trained by the agency are at risk of losing their accreditation.

Mr Bacon, a member of the House of Commons public accounts committee, said: “The Assets Recovery Agency was meant to seize the proceeds of crime but the agency cannot even recover enough to meet its own costs. As a result, most crime barons seem unlikely to lose their ill-gotten mansions and yachts any time soon.

“Taxpayers will not be surprised at this total shambles, given that the Assets Recovery Agency comes under the Home Office, but they are entitled to expect better.

“Most of the financial investigators trained by the agency are at risk losing their accreditation. Fraudulent activity in the UK is expanding rapidly and the UK cannot afford to lose trained financial investigators.”

Mr Bacon was speaking after the National Audit Office published its report into the Assets Recovery Agency. The report found that when the agency was set up in 2003, no prior feasibility study was carried out to assess its likely performance, or to devise appropriate targets.

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The agency is also supposed to finance itself from recovered assets, but so far it has recovered £23 million, against cumulative costs of £65 million.