Tuesday 28 May 2019
Embargoed to 00.01 29th May 2019
Three Unexplained Wealth Orders have been secured as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into London property linked to a politically exposed person believed to be involved in serious crime.
The UWOs, which were obtained at the High Court last week, are for three residential properties in prime locations – originally bought for more than £80m and held by offshore companies.
Investigators are looking into the funds used to purchase the properties.
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: “This is the second time the NCA has successfully secured UWOs since the new legislation was enacted. They are a powerful tool in being able to investigate illicit finance flowing into the UK and discourage it happening in the first place.
“The individuals behind these offshore companies now have to explain how the three properties were obtained.
“The NCA will not shy away from complex and detailed investigations against high profile individuals and professional enablers.”
Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre said: “The purchase of prime property in London is a tactic used to launder money and we will use all the powers available to us to target those who try to do this.
“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.”
As part of a separate case in February 2018, the National Crime Agency obtained UWOs against two London properties believed to belong to jailed Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev and his wife Zamira Hajiyeva.
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