The bars, which weigh 16kg altogether (that’s the average weight of an adult Staffordshire Bull Terrier, by the way), were seized at the airport back in November 2018.
They were found concealed in the lunchbox of a passenger’s hand luggage, destined for Dubai, and were seized and forfeited.
HMRC investigators had been able to use new civil proceeds of crime powers for the first time to forfeit the items – something that was granted by Manchester and Salford Magistrates on 2 July 2020.
The 2017 Criminal Finance Act allows ‘listed assets’ like gold to be forfeited in the same way as cash believed to be from the proceeds of crime
Now the gold bars are being auctioned off, with all proceeds going back into the ‘public purse’ to be spent on services such as hospitals and schools.
Gill Hilton, assistant director at HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “This is the first time HMRC has used these powers to seize and forfeit a listed asset, and it should act as a deterrent to criminals looking to trade assets such as precious metals.
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“If they are the proceeds of crime or intended for unlawful conduct, we now have the powers to take them from criminals and use the money for public services.
“The money raised through the auction will go straight back into the public purse, to be spent on vital services such as hospitals and schools.
“We are determined to cut off the funds that finance serious crime in the UK.”
The gold bars, which are are valued at around £750,000 in current gold prices, are being sold by Wilsons Auctions on Thursday 3 September.
Michael Streight, government sales coordinator at Wilsons Auctions, said: “Wilsons Auctions is delighted to once again be realising a significant amount of 24ct gold bars on behalf of HMRC through its upcoming Online Luxury Assets Auction.
“Having successfully sold over £1 million worth of gold for HMRC in a previous auction, we are proud to continue realising these luxury seized assets, with the money raised ultimately going back into the public purse.”
The auction will take place online from 2pm.