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New police powers to target suspected corrupt wealth come into force

New police powers to target suspected corrupt wealth come into force
Transparency International UK identifies £4.4bn worth of UK property that should now be considered

30th January 2018, London – Unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) – a new power for law enforcement that will help target suspected corrupt wealth – will tomorrow come into operation. Transparency International UK has campaigned for these powers since 2014, identifying £4.4 billion worth of property in the UK that should be considered as possible candidates for UWOs. The effective use of these new powers has the potential to help curb the use of the UK’s property market as a safe haven for corrupt cash.

Until now little could be done to act on highly suspicious wealth unless there was a conviction in the country of origin or cooperation from their law enforcement. After securing a court order, UK law enforcement authorities can issue a UWO to individuals deemed to own suspicious wealth, which asks them to explain how they were able to afford the asset with legitimate funds. If they are unable to provide an adequate explanation, or fail to respond to the order, this can be used in a separate process to recover the asset.

Recent years have seen multiple scandals in which corrupt individuals have been found to be using their stolen cash to purchase luxury property in the UK. Transparency International research last year suggested this could even be having an impact on the housing crisis. The same report found £4.2 billion worth of London property bought by those representing a high money laundering risk. Tomorrow Transparency International will publish information on cases where we believe law enforcement should consider using UWOs. (Now Published)

Rachel Davies Teka, Head of Advocacy Transparency International UK, said:

“The introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders is a significant moment in the fight against dirty money flowing into the UK. They will allow law enforcement to much more easily investigate assets that are highly likely to have been bought using corrupt money, often stolen from populations in some of the poorest parts of the world.”

“Any law is only as good as its implementation and the extent to which UWOs are used will prove how serious the UK Government is in fighting corrupt money. These powers must be used effectively and do more than pay lip service to a long established problem.”

 “Investigative journalists, campaigners and others have all highlighted numerous cases of UK property being bought with suspicious wealth. From Russia to Nigeria to the Middle East it is no secret that corrupt officials have channelled ill-gotten funds into the UK via the property market. The introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders must mark the turning point, where Britain removes the red carpet for corrupt individuals and their illicit wealth.”

***ENDS***

Contact:

Dominic Kavakeb
020 3096 7695
079 6456 0340
dominic.kavakeb@transparency.org.uk

 

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Read 932 times Last modified on Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:08

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