NATIONAL Crime Agency officers say they have recovered a plot of land suspected to have been bought with laundered and fraudulent cash.

The land, in the Blackwatertown area of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, is owned by Patrick Joseph White.

The land belonging to the 49-year-old, of Widnes, is alleged to have been bought for £100,000 using the proceeds of fraud and money laundering offences.

The NCA, working as part of the Joint Agency Task Force, obtained a recovery order by consent under the Proceeds of Crime Act at the High Court in Belfast in February.

A trustee for civil recovery has been appointed by the court, whose statutory duty is to realise the value of the land.

The land has been subject to a property freezing order obtained by the NCA since May 2023 as part of a civil recovery investigation.

This prevented anyone from selling or transferring ownership of the land while an investigation was conducted into the source of funds used to make the purchase.

Adam Ewart, from the NCA, said: “Civil recovery and tax powers play an integral role in the work of the NCA.

“These powers are a strong tool in preventing those engaged in criminal activity from benefitting financially or materially from it.

“The NCA will use these powers to pursue the assets of criminals, no matter how carefully they have been hidden.

“We will continue to work closely with partners in the Joint Agency Task Force to deny criminals from benefiting from the crimes.”

The news was also welcomed by DS Richard Thornton, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

He commented: “Thanks to the collective efforts of partners in the Joint Agency Task Force, this is a significant step in preventing those engaged in criminal activity from benefiting financially.

“Working with our partner agencies, we remain committed to tackling and disrupting the activities of organised crime groups.

“These groups use whatever means possible, including money laundering, to line their own pockets.

“Sadly, their financial gain is often at the expense of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“This is an excellent example of working in partnership.

“We are also grateful for the support of residents, and would appeal to anyone with information or concerns to call us on 101.”