A government auction is an auction of goods which have been confiscated by various Government bodies and agencies.
Government auctions may be found in most countries but can often differ in their format. In certain places, United States for instance, they are held by local departments, and proceeds are retained by the authorities. Generally, these types of auction are open to the public such as the United Kingdom.
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HM Customs & Excise: Often enter items for auction seized from smugglers, fraudsters and racketeers.
Executors may enter the assets of individuals dying in testate (i.e. without leaving a will) or in debt.
The official receiver handles the liquidations of companies that have failed.
Bailiffs enters goods into auctions which have been seized for various reasons such as non-payment of bills to finance companies.
Some auctioneers act as bonded agents handling goods from liquidators and HM Collectors of Taxes and official receivers. Often goods sold at government auctions will be unreserved (they will be sold to the highest bidder at the auction).
How Auctions work:
Auctioneers are normally contracted by the different organizations within their local area.
An auction at the center of London for example. Will deal with the assets of companies whose bankruptcy proceedings are being dealt with by courts in Greater London.
An auction in Leeds handles the assets of companies in Yorkshire that are being dealt with by Leeds City Court.
However, this is not always the case. It seems like Smugglers whose assets were confiscated, were found to be bidding on them at local auctions. To prevent this, goods are sold at an undisclosed auction in a distant district.
And finally, each year, millions of pounds of items are either seized or confiscated by or on behalf of various Government organizations. To expedite liquidation, orders are made to sell them at specialist auctions.