Account Freezing Orders (AFOs) were introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017, which amended the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) by giving authorities the power to freeze bank and building society accounts belonging to individuals or corporate entities where criminal activity is suspected. AFOs are a powerful and effective tool for criminal investigators and they are becoming an increasingly popular weapon for tackling money laundering and terrorist financing.

AFOs are relatively easy to obtain as you do not have to prove that a person is involved in criminal conduct in order to justify freezing an account. All that is required is for the authorities to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that the monies held in an account comes from criminal conduct or that they are intended for use in criminal conduct. This threshold is very low, which means that it is now much easier for the police to freeze bank accounts that may contain millions of pounds compared to the old restraint order regime. The period in which an account can be frozen is up to two years whilst the authorities investigate the provenance of the funds. If the authorities suspect that the funds in question are the proceeds of crime or will be used for criminal conduct, then an application will be made to the Magistrates’ Court for forfeiture of the frozen funds.

AFOs can often have a crippling effect on an individual’s finances and it is therefore important to act fast so that robust and effective steps can be taken to challenge the AFO and ultimate forfeiture application.

Our team at Monan Gozzett has extensive experience of advising clients on complex POCA related matters and we have a reputation for providing exceptional levels of service to all our clients. We regularly work alongside leading QCs and specialist Counsel in London in relation to these areas. We can advise you on how to unfreeze bank accounts that are subject to AFOs quickly and effectively. We also work closely with our dispute resolution team who bring their own unique commercial experience and insight to these matters.

If you have been subject to an AFO and require immediate assistance then please contact us for a confidential discussion on 0207 936 6329 or email

If you would like to speak to our expert legal team about this, or any related subject then please contact our team by phone on 0207 936 6329, Email or by completing our Quick Contact Form below.