UK Seizes $13 Million in Unexplained Wealth From Businessman
In what is being described as a landmark case, the U.K.’s National Crime Agency, NCA, relied on an Unexplained Wealth Order to seize millions in property and assets from a businessman with alleged ties to organized crime.
press release on Wednesday.Despite not having been convicted of a crime himself, Mansoor ‘Manni’ Mahmood Hussain, a 40-year-old residing in Leeds, was required to submit a 76-page statement to the NCA to explain how he amassed his multi-million dollar real estate empire – which inadvertently helped NCA build an even bigger case against him, it said in a
“Hussain, who has links to a murderer jailed for 26 years, an armed robber and a convicted fraudster who acted as his accountant, used threats of violence and blackmail to buy his properties,” the NCA said.
The NCA was able to uncover this evidence through an Unexplained Wealth Order, a mechanism introduced in the U.K. in January of 2018, which forces investigated individuals to explain their assets if they appear disproportionate to their income.
Graeme Biggar, NCA Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said that “this case is a milestone, demonstrating the power of Unexplained Wealth Orders, with significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the U.K..
“This groundbreaking investigation has recovered millions of pounds worth of criminally obtained property. It is crucial for the economic health of local communities such as Leeds, and for the country as a whole, that we ensure property and other assets are held legitimately.
This asset recovery of roughly 10 million pounds (US$13 Million) was the first one that has been obtained solely based on an individual's alleged involvement in serious organized crime, the NCA said.
Politicians from multiple parties expressed praise for the successful asset seizure, and the potential Unexplained Wealth Orders have for going after illicit finance.
Margaret Hodge, a UK Labour Party Member of Parliament for the municipality of Barking and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said on Twitter that it was “fantastic to see the first Unexplained Wealth Order success story.”
She said that they are “a vital tool in the fight against money laundering” and that law enforcement agencies “must continue to use this weapon to crack down on our dirty money crisis.”
James Brokenshire, a former member of parliament for the conservative party also called the news “fantastic,” and said that he “strongly support[s] work to protect the U.K. economy and our communities from criminally financed assets and property.”