Wealthy criminals targeted under ‘dirty money’ laws have failed to hand over more than £8million of their ill-gotten gains.
Fraudsters, drug dealers and money launderers still owe cash years after confiscation orders were imposed on them by courts.
Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) figures released under freedom of information laws show that there is £8,014,205 outstanding in confiscation orders imposed under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
More than £3.5 million is owed by just 10 people.
Money recovered through criminal enterprises is invested in community projects across Scotland.
As of December, the largest amount outstanding was from a £1million confiscation order handed out to Edinburgh brothel boss Margaret Paterson in May 2015.
Paterson, who was dubbed ‘Madam Moneybags’, died aged 66 in September 2019 having paid just £219,559. Prosecutors are trying to recover the money from her estate.
In 2013, she was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted for brothel-keeping, money laundering and living on the earnings of prostitution.
Aberdeen pharmacist Conrad Chau, who was jailed for VAT fraud and forging prescriptions, was ordered to pay back £432,000 in July 2017 but has so far stumped up only £100,065.
Chau, 55, altered prescriptions to get pharmaceutical firms to send him more drugs at a discounted price so he could sell them on to other companies at a profit.
He was jailed for 20 months in 2016 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
VAT fraudster Michael Voudouri, 53, has not paid a penny back of a £207,339 order handed down to him in May, 2015.
He was granted early release in 2019 from an 11-and-a-half year jail sentence for laundering the proceeds of a huge VAT fraud and breaching bail by going on the run to Cyprus.
Scottish Conservatives justice spokesman Liam Kerr MSP said: “The policy of forcing criminals to pay back money they’ve made from crime is right.
“But since its introduction in Scotland, it’s been mismanaged terribly by the SNP government.
“There’s no point in having this law if millions of pounds remain outstanding in this way.
“Clearly, serious criminals are not taking this law seriously, and that tells you everything you need to know about the SNP’s soft-touch approach to justice.”
Rhoda Grant MSP, Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “That millions of pounds generated by criminality has not been collected is scandalous and demands urgent action to recover the funds.
“With the pandemic hitting public services in the purse, community initiatives need this money more than ever. It is vital that this substantial sum is handed over and that the criminals who owe the money are punished for their actions.”
Others who owe cash include Carol Wiseman, 53, of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, who raked in a fortune selling fake diet drops and bogus cancer treatments.
She was given a £298,316 confiscation order in November 2018 but has paid just over £72,000.
The SCTS said £5,550,840 of the money outstanding was ‘in arrears’ while £2,463,365 was ‘on track’ to be paid through instalments.
An SCTS spokesman said: “Where a confiscation order has been made by the court following conviction, the enforcement process is directed by the court.
“By its nature a confiscation order is a financial penalty that may take some time to recover in full. Of the £14.01 million original value imposed of all outstanding confiscation orders, more than 60 per cent has been paid or is on track to be paid.
“The period within which financial penalties should be paid is a matter for the judiciary. If an offender defaults in the payment of a confiscation order he or she will be called back before the court for further consideration of the payment terms, at which time any further enforcement procedure will be considered.
“This may include, for example, the appointment of an administrator who will assist in the ingathering and management of realisable property.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The enforcement of confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is a matter for the courts. If an offender defaults on payments to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, they will be called back before the courts for consideration of additional sanctions.
“POCA continues to be an effective tool in the fight against organised crime in Scotland and amendments to it under the Criminal Finances Act 2017 give law enforcement agencies additional powers to seize money, assets and property from serious criminals seeking to harm the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“Since 2008, £110 million recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act has been committed to the CashBack for Communities Programme and other community initiatives. The programme has funded over 2.5 million activities and opportunities for young people.”
-- to www.dailyrecord.co.uk