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EIGHT gold bars which were seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) from a suspected criminal at Manchester Airport went under the hammer today for $1 million in a first of its kind auction.

Airport security stopped the passenger in November 2018 and called HMRC officers who seized the bars – which the passenger had tried to smuggle in their lunchbox – after believing they were proceeds of crime.

The passenger avoided arrest and was allowed to board their flight, but they later appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court where a judge ruled the bars, which weigh 16kg, should be forfeited and auctioned.

The bars were sold for a cumulative price of $1 million by Wilsons Auctions and the proceeds will be put back into the public purse.

HMRC had never previously auctioned off any gold or precious metals seized from criminals. It also used new civil proceeds of crime powers for the first time to apply for forfeiture of the gold bars.

Gill Hilton, from HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said:

“This is the first time HMRC has used these powers to seize and forfeit a listed asset, and it should act as a deterrent to criminals looking to trade assets such as precious metals. If they are the proceeds of crime or intended for unlawful conduct, we now have the powers to take them from criminals and use the money for public services. The money raised through the auction will go straight back into the public purse, to be spent on vital services such as hospitals and schools. We are determined to cut off the funds that finance serious crime in the UK. In the last year alone, HMRC has recovered more than $220,564,200 of illicit proceeds using its civil and criminal proceeds of crime powers.”

The total raised from all the lots in the auction was $1.4 million and everything raised will go back into the public purse.

Since the HMRC’S proceeds of crime unit was created three years ago, it has recovered more than $930 million for the public purse, through seizures of a variety of items such as jewelry to luxury cars.

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