First Unexplained Wealth Order Concerning Individual Links To Organised Crime Issued
A property tycoon from the North of England has been issued with an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Having built up a property empire worth in excess of £10 million, the NCA wish to determine the source of funds used to purchase the properties.
Having suspected the individual of having links to serious organised crime, the NCA obtained the UWO on July 12th and will focus on eight properties bought in various locations around the country.
Whilst the investigation is ongoing, Interim Freezing Orders have been granted which will prevent the properties from being sold until a conclusion is reached.
Officers are confident that some of the money used to purchase the properties was provided by criminal associates involved in drug trafficking, armed robberies and the illegal arms trade.
This is the first UWO obtained exclusively on the understanding that the individual was involved in serious organised crime.
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.
“The owner of these properties will now have to explain how they were financed.
“The NCA will not shy away from complex and detailed investigations against those suspected of serious crime.”
Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, added:
“We will use all the powers available to us to target those we believe are trying to launder money through the property market.
“A priority for the NECC is to ensure we explore every opportunity to deny assets linked to illicit finance. Our aim is to prevent misuse of the UK’s financial structures which undermines the integrity of the UK’s economy and institutions.”
How prevalent is organised crime activity in the property market? Do you envision UWO becoming a deterrent in using property to launder ill-gotten money?