The long-term future of the Assets Recovery Agency may be within the embrace of SOCA, but as the recent National Audit Office report revealed, in Northern Ireland their working relationship with the PSNI is more established, and advanced, than with any other police service. That might, in part, help explain cases like this one – the BBC report that the “High Court in Belfast ruled the agency could freeze 11 bank accounts and take 36 houses belonging to brothers Joseph and Francis McGleenan”, brothers of Damien McGleenan who faced an ARA seizure order in January 2006 for assets worth £400,000. Overall value of the seizure is an estimated £8.2million.
The agency’s deputy director Alan McQuillan said it was “one of the most valuable portfolios of assets” ever frozen in Northern Ireland. “We started with the investigation into one individual and a relatively modest amount of assets,” he said. “But the receiver soon identified a huge range of properties held by his brothers which have also been frozen. “In getting this order today, we had to be able to show to the High Court that we had a good arguable case that these assets were also the proceeds of crime.”