Millions seized in fight against crime

Since its creation in 2002, the Assets Recovery Agency has seized million of pounds earned from criminal activity and frozen the assets of people who have allegedly gained from breaking the law.

Here are some of the ARA's more high profile and significant successes:

n In June 2006, the ARA seized assets worth over 2 million from Mark Anthony McGill and Jacqueline Elizabeth McGill of Newmills Road, Coleraine.

Belfast High Court had upheld the ARA's assertion that Mr McGill had obtained income from fraudulent applications for banking, mortgage and credit facilities. The couple's declared joint income also came a long way short of their considerable spending on luxury goods and holidays;

n The ARA took control of assets worth 2.6 million from a Tyrone couple in March 2006 after allegations of fuel smuggling and money laundering.

Jonathan George Sawyers and Monica Sarah Sawyers, of Altamuskin Road, Sixmilecross, had a company trading as Little Float Farm Ltd but as well as legitimately working as farmers they were involved in unlawful enterprise;

n The estate of the late James Herbert Johnston, a murdered loyalist paramilitary leader, was the first seizure worth over 1 million in the UK in September 2004.

The assets included his former home in Crawfordsburn, seven other properties, a commercial premises and a significant investment portfolio. The proceeds from the sale were recycled into crime-fighting initiatives;

n Almost 50 properties worth a total of 4.8 million were seized by the ARA in March 2005 from an alleged loyalist drug dealer.

The assets belonging to Colin Robert Armstrong and Geraldine Enda Mallon, of Tullynewbank Road, Glenavy, were handed over to the ARA after they successfully argued that Mr Armstrong was linked to drug trafficking between Belgium and Northern Ireland and had been dealing drugs for several years.;

n A Belfast man deemed to have made hundreds of thousands from selling smuggled cigarettes from the back of ice cream vans had assets worth 1.4 million seized in June 2005.

Stephen Albert Baxter, and his wife Denise, of Lyndhurst View Park, lost their home, two properties in Belfast city centre, an interest in eight development projects and two ice cream vans, for which he never had the correct street trading licence;

n An businessman had 3.6 of assets allegedly gained from smuggling drugs, fuel and cigarettes and money laundering seized by the ARA in February 2006.

They took control of properties belonging to Mark and Beverley McKinney, of Woodlands Manor, Portadown, who are the owners of MMK International Transport Ltd. Mr McKinney has a criminal record and the ARA alleged he used his haulage company to smuggle illegal items.