Syedur Rahman, of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli, outlines its significance.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has secured its first serious organised crime unexplained wealth order.
A businessman from the north of England with suspected links to serious organised criminals has been ordered to reveal the source of funds used to start and develop his £10 million property empire. The NCA has secured a number of UWOs previously, but this is the first time one has been obtained solely based on an individual's alleged involvement in serious organised crime.
Officers believe the businessman's property purchases were funded by a number of criminal associates involved in drug trafficking, armed robberies and supplying firearms. Interim Freezing Orders have also been granted which means that the properties cannot be sold, transferred or dissipated while the investigation continues.
Andy Lewis, Head of Asset Denial at the NCA, said: "We are pleased to have again successfully secured a UWO to allow us to investigate the source of the funds used to purchase these properties. These orders are a powerful tool in being able to investigate illicit finance generated within, or flowing into the UK and discourage it happening in the first place.''
This is a significant move from the NCA because it is the first time we have seen a UWO issued against a UK national. The previous two were issued against politically exposed persons from outside the European Economic Area. It remains to be seen whether we will see more of them being issued against those suspected of organised crime in the UK.
Despite being available to authorities for over a year, we have yet to see UWOs being utilised on a regular basis. But with two issued in as many months - and the case against Zamira Hajiyeva, the subject of the first one, continuing to develop – it will be interesting to see just how many more are forthcoming.
For now, this latest one has to be seen as a warning shot to those engaged in unlawful activity in the UK.
Further reading: Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) - An In-Depth Guide, written by Market-leading Award-winning Investigations Litigation Law Firm Rahman Ravelli.
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