Your property has been restrained! What do you do when the government freezes your assets?
By Madeleine Brown
17 June 2022
What do you do when your property is restrained?
What if you own property that is suspected to have been used in connection with a crime? What if an employee, family member or business partner does something illegal that risks your property, and your property is restrained by the government as a consequence?
The Australian Government and state law enforcement agencies have the power to seize property such as bank accounts, real estate and other assets. Under the Confiscation Act 1997 (Vic), the Court can make an order that property in relation to certain offences is restrained, that the proceeds of certain offences are forfeited, or that assets are frozen.
Sometimes innocent people get caught up as ‘collateral damage’ in the process. You may find that a restraining order has been made in respect of your property, such as a bank account, which prevents it being accessed or dealt with as it normally would – effectively ‘freezing’ the use of that property.
If your property has been restrained, an application can be made to the Court to exclude your property from being restrained.
If you can show, among other things, that:
- you were not involved in the commission of the offence;
- you acquired the interest in the property without knowing it was ‘tainted property’ (where tainted property means property that was used in or derived from an offence);
- the property was not under the control of the accused; and
- the property was acquired for sufficient consideration,
the Court may make an order excluding your property from the restraining order, freeing it from restraint.
We have successfully represented clients whose assets have been frozen and freed their assets from restraint. We can help unfreeze your property so you can get on with your life.
If you need help accessing your restrained property, speak to our litigation team.
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