Press release 06th Oct 2020

UWO settlement should embolden law enforcement to expand use of powers

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7th October 2020, London - Today’s Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) settlement highlights the power of these tools in tackling financial crime and should embolden law enforcement to expand their use to pursue billions of pounds in illicit and suspicious wealth in the UK.

The National Crime Agency announced it had secured the forfeiture of land and properties worth £10million from a Leeds businessman with links to a violent and serious organised crime group. A court had previously ordered Mansoor ‘Manni’ Mahmood Hussain to explain how he was able to legitimately afford the assets.

UWOs were introduced in 2017 and have previously been used to freeze £22million worth of UK assets belonging to Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of a state banker jailed for fraud in their native Azerbaijan.

 

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

“We welcome the conclusion of this case, which clearly demonstrates the power of Unexplained Wealth Orders in the fight against serious financial crime. We hope this success will encourage investigators to make use of existing powers to address the £5 billion worth of UK property that we have flagged as bought with suspicious wealth.

“Whilst the Government recognises the urgent need to deal with the UK’s £100billion-a-year dirty money problem, it must ensure that investigators are provided with the tools and resources they need to take on difficult and complex corruption cases. Government should legislate to bring greater transparency over the UK property market and provide more robust financial backing for law enforcement at the earliest opportunity. Without these much needed and long overdue measures, the Government’s promise to end Britain’s role as a global hub for dirty money will begin to ring hollow.”

 

Notes to editors: 

  • The Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, which has been scrutinised by MPs and peers but is yet to be tabled by the Government, would help investigators by introducing a public register of the true owners of overseas companies that own UK property. 
  • Transparency International UK’s research has identified 421 UK properties worth more than £5billion which have been purchased with suspicious wealth. Many of these properties could be the subject of UWOs.

 

 

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