04 Oct 2018
A London court has dismissed a challenge brought by a banker’s wife against an unexplained wealth order (UWO) which demanded an explanation into how property worth millions of pounds was funded and bought.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) alleged that the woman, who is classified as a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) and from a Non EEA country, purchased the property with money her husband had embezzled.
Her lawyers argued that her husband’s fraud conviction was unjust.
The judge, however, dismissed her challenge.
Following the ruling, the NCA, which is the government unit that applied for the UWO to be enforced, said it is looking to continue with this case and others.
Donald Toon, NCA Director for Economic Crime, said: “I am very pleased that the court dismissed the respondent’s arguments today. This demonstrates that the NCA is absolutely right to ask probing questions about the funds used to purchase prime property.
“We will continue with this case and seek to quickly move others to the High Court. We are determined to use the powers available to us to their fullest extent where we have concerns that we cannot determine legitimate sources of wealth. ”
In April Toon reportedly said his agency was working on 100 UWOs.
“We have significantly increased amount of work ongoing, some of which is against people who are Russian nationals, but there is a wide spread of activity if you look at the nationality of those involved,” he said at the time.
The UWO involving the £22m properties is one of the first that the agency has pursued.
UWOs are some of the newest tools that have been added to UK law enforcement’s capabilities to fight financial crime.
This month UK Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of the effectiveness of UWOs, saying they had now led to some people ‘playing by the rules.’
Photo: This is a file photo and is not related to the properties mentioned in the article.
– Irene Madongo
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