Less than a month after local authority lawyers were told to consider the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) as a way to generate income, an East London council has announced its biggest court payout to date.
The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham said that an east London landlord has been given a £222,000 confiscation order following a POCA application brought by the council before Snaresbrook Crown Court. Barking & Dagenham said it would receive 37.5% of the £222,000 from the confiscation order ’to be spent on fighting crime’; half will go to central government and 12.5% to the court service.
Councillor Laila Butt, cabinet member for community safety and enforcement, said the victory reflected the ‘magnificent work of our legal team, BDT Legal, and our diligent investigation and enforcement officers whose determination and forensic use of evidence led to this excellent outcome’.
The council’s announcement states that Zoofshan Malik, 47, of Upney Lane, Barking, was ordered to pay the sum by recorder Milliken Smith after she initially pleaded guilty to renting unlawful flats in breach of a planning enforcement notice regarding an illegal extension to her property in Longbridge Road at £2,850 per month.
Officers from the council’s planning enforcement team raided the property following an anonymous allegation about the 37ft extension and found four flats being rented out in sub-standard conditions, the council said. Malik was renting out the four flats through an estate agency of which she was a director, it added.
The proceeds of crime case came to court after the council argued that Malik had benefitted from her offending following an earlier hearing on the illegal extension.
Malik was ordered to pay £222,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in three months or face two years’ imprisonment, the council said. She was also fined £2,000 for the illegal extension and ordered to pay £11,649 in costs.
Earlier this month, Fiona Alderman, former chief legal officer at the London Borough of Brent, told the Lawyers in Local Government weekend school that the act, including confiscation orders, brought in £1.3m for Brent. Such orders were used, for instance, in planning enforcement, ‘an area of key political interest’, she added.