Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the United Kingdom (UK) has confiscated cash belonging to Nayele Ametefe, the Ghanaian-Austrian woman who was jailed eight years and eight months for transporting 12 kilogrammes of cocaine to the UK.
The HMRC confiscated $23,000 and £6,000, which were found on Ametefe at the time of her arrest at the Heathrow Airport.
Nayele Ametefe was jailed on January 6, this year. The Isleworth Crown Court in Middlesex, London, was scheduled to make a decision on whether the money should indeed be confiscated on July 6 but could not hear the matter because the cash has been seized and kept by the HMRC.
No need for hearing
Ametefe’s lawyer, James Scobie, told the Daily Graphic in London that there was no need for the hearing, once the HMRC had decided to keep the cash.
He, however, did not explain the decision by the HMRC to keep the money without the hearing nor his decision not to contest it.
Information available to the Daily Graphic, however, indicates that it is the prerogative of the security agencies to have the final say in respect of the confiscation of cash accruing from drugs.
The street value of the cocaine Ametefe carried was said to be £1.9 million but enquiries at the court before the date set for hearing revealed that there would be no such confiscation hearing.
The money found in her possession and seized by the UK authorities when she was arrested was said to be her payment for carrying the cocaine to the UK.
Ametefe was arrested at the Heathrow Airport on November 10, 2014, after attempting to enter the UK with the cocaine in her hand luggage.
She was subsequently charged with Class A drug trafficking and put before the Isleworth Crown Court in Middlesex, London.
In the UK, seizure of cash is made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and under Section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
One may challenge the legality of any such seizure by sending a notice of claim to the HMRC or the Border Force or write to the HMRC or the Border Force asking for the return of one’s cash, even if they accept it was seized legally.
This is called restoration, but for Mr Scobie, there was “no need for a hearing”.