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Unexplained wealth case involving Kazakh elites highlights need for property transparency and crackdown on ‘enabling classes’

11th March 2020, London – Today marks the end of a hearing over the legality of two Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) investigating £80 million of UK property bought with suspicious funds from Kazakhstan.

The case has been dominated by conflicting claims over who owns three London properties and how their purchase was funded. A web of secretive structures, including companies from the UK’s British Virgin Islands (BVI), have made it difficult for the National Crime Agency (NCA) to understand who owns two mansions and a luxury apartment in London.

The NCA also levelled criticism at the “enabling classes” who facilitate the flow of dirty money into and through the UK. Transparency International’s research last year identified more than 600 UK businesses, institutions, and people who have helped corrupt individuals, unwittingly or otherwise, obtain, move and defend their ill-gotten gains.

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

“This is landmark action by the NCA, seeking to understand how politically connected elites from Kazakhstan paid for luxury London properties worth £80 million. Thanks to the opacity provided by a complex web of companies and trusts, UK law enforcement have struggled to identify who really owns these assets. This case highlights the pressing need to introduce transparency over who really owns secretive offshore companies holding property in the UK.

“Once again, deficiencies in the UK’s money laundering defences have been laid bare. Those in the private sector should be the first line of protection against corrupt wealth entering the UK, and yet some tasked with this responsibility are labelled an ‘enabling class’ by law enforcement. Much tougher action is needed to deter those seeking to provide a helping hand to corrupt officials and kleptocrats.”

Notes to editors:

  • Transparency International UK is calling for the introduction of a failure to prevent economic crime offence to ensure that money laundering committed on behalf, or in the name of, large corporates can be prosecuted.
  • Transparency International UK analysed over 400 corruption cases spanning 116 countries amounting to economic damage in excess of £325 billion. We identified almost 600 firms and institutions offering services – often unwittingly – to corrupt individuals. The findings can be found here.

Contact:

Harvey Gavin
harvey.gavin@transparency.org.uk
+44 (0)20 3096 7695
+44 (0)79 6456 0340

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Read 97 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 March 2020 16:30

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