UK looks into 140 unexplained wealth orders, many linked to Russians
08 Feb 2019

The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has considered up to 140 unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) to date, according to an official.

UWOs require individuals to explain how they obtained an asset where it is suspect that their income would be insufficient to obtain it.

So far the agency has used the fairly new instruments to target the property and jewellery of two politically exposed persons (PEPs), running into millions of pounds.

“To date, we have considered around 140 cases where the use of an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) may be the appropriate course of action. A significant number of these are against assets believed to be held by Russian individuals and we are working to apply for further UWOs as our investigations continue,” an NCA spokesman said to a KYC360 query, following remarks by businessman Bill Browder that the UK is reluctant to investigate money laundering.

“These investigations are informing law enforcement and immigration action and the increase in intelligence and referrals to the NCA from partners have generated, among the broader caseload, a significant number of lines of enquiry in relation to Russian-owned assets,” the NCA spokesman added.

The Russian embassy in London said it had no comment to make regarding the high number of Russians linked to suspect criminal wealth.

Browder has widely discussed his account of how millions were defrauded from his then-based Russian firm in a money laundering network reaching various European countries and elsewhere.

The US in recent years has implemented the ‘Magnitsky’ Act, named after Browder’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died while in Russian custody.

– Irene Madongo

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