Ronald Aldred was being pursued by prosecutors for £20,000 in ill-gotten earnings but they were only able to find the token sum in available assets.
However, the Crown Office said that future assets obtained by Aldred – once branded as “extraordinarily dangerous” by a judge – could be seized to make up for the missing cash.
The seizure at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday sparked calls for the investigation to be kept up on Aldred to ensure he does not “drive off in a BMW” after being released from prison.
Detectives believed Aldred was peddling heroin in Edinburgh and West Lothian after recovering the stash kept at his Kirkliston home in a raid.
The 45-year-old was also jailed for 12 years in 2002 as the ringleader of a gang that took part in a campaign of kidnapping, assault and extortion, which a judge described as being like “something out of a 1930s gangster movie”.
Aldred had been hired by dealers to recover a kilo of stolen cocaine, and at one point the gang tried to put a loaded gun into a victim’s mouth during a vicious interrogation. In 1992, he was jailed for nine years for two attempted murders after launching an attack with a sword and knife at The Royal Nip pub in Leith.
Lewis Macdonald MSP, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “It’s a cat and mouse game between prosecutors looking for the money and criminals trying to hide it. Clearly someone who has been selling heroin is unlikely to be worth such a low sum.
“Part of the responsibility lies with those who use their businesses or other expertise to help criminals hide their money. Those involved in aiding criminals should also find themselves legitimate targets for prosecution.
“I would expect the authorities to pursue him in the future, especially if he seems to come into a lot of money after leaving prison which he clearly hasn’t earned. If he gets out and drives off in a BMW then action needs to be taken.”
Proceedings were raised against Aldred under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and the benefit from his criminal conduct was calculated at £20,000. But as Aldred had no assets available to pay, the court made a confiscation order for the “nominal” amount of £680.
Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown Office’s serious and organised crime division, said: “Proceeds of Crime legislation allows for confiscation orders to be made for nominal sums where there has been considerable financial benefit to the accused but he or she has no available assets to pay an order.
“The nominal order preserves the Crown’s position, meaning that if Mr Aldred obtains any cash or assets in the future the Crown can ask the court to recalculate the order.
“We will pursue anyone who has made cash or assets through illegal activities, even if this means taking income made legitimately after the date of conviction.”
Aldred was caught with half a kilo of heroin at his home in Marshall Road, Kirkliston on October 6 last year. He was sentenced to four years in January after pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug.