Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Costs cut into crime profits cash

Government's coffers end up with $12 million from $33 million worth of assets ordered seized by judges.

Of the $12 million received, $3 million will be spent on drug treatment or tackling organised crime. photo / Thinkstock
Of the $12 million received, $3 million will be spent on drug treatment or tackling organised crime. photo / Thinkstock

Only one third of $33 million worth of forfeited criminal assets has gone into Government coffers.

Million-dollar homes, farms, luxury cars, motorcycles, cash, boats, artwork and jewellery are among the 495 valuables High Court judges have ruled must be handed over since new laws to fight organised crime came into force.

Restraining orders are held on another $135 million worth of assets under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, which means they cannot be sold or disposed of until the civil cases are heard in court.

This figure does not include the $20 million worth frozen in the recent Operation Ghost investigation into an alleged drug network.

But figures obtained under the Official Information Act show only $12 million has been placed in Crown accounts. This is because of "procedural factors", according to the most recent Tackling Methamphetamine report by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Sometimes the sale price did not meet the estimated value, or third party interests such as mortgages, spousal interests, legal aid payments, fines or reparation and Official Assignee costs had to be paid first.

Of the $12 million received, $3 million will be spent on drug treatment or tackling organised crime.

The Herald revealed in April that no money had set aside to tackle the country's P problem as promised when the law came into force in December 2009.

But Prime Minister John Key announced in late November that $3 million would be set aside for anti-methamphetamine initiatives, the drug and alcohol court pilot scheme, police legal costs in asset cases, frontline border screening and drug purity testing.

The Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act

A total $135.7 million of assets are restrained by court order and under the control of the Official Assignee until a judge makes a final decision.

A further $33.6 million is already forfeited to the Crown after going through the court process, which can take up to three years.

These include:
*Asset/profit forfeiture: $2.6m
*Boat: $295,000
*Bonus bonds and shares: $68,000
*Vehicles: $2.3m
*Cash and bank accounts:$11.4m
*Commercial property: $950,000
*Farms and orchards: $3.2m
*Furniture: $25,000
*Jewellery: $141,000
*Lifestyle blocks: $1.8m
*Motorcycles: $696,000
*Plants or equipment: $415,000
*Residential properties: $9.5m

Only $12 million has been placed in crown coffers. Of that, Prime Minister John Key has announced $3 million funding to tackle the country's methamphetamine problem.

- NZ Herald

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