Suspected Money Launderer Loses £10 million to Unexplained Wealth Order
A suspected major money launderer surrendered around £10 million worth of property after being served with an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) by investigators from the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Leeds businessman Mansoor Mahmood Hussain is believed to have acted closely with gangsters and criminals, laundering their profits through a property empire that has been operating for over two decades. The 40-year-old had never previously been convicted of a crime and investigators have stated that they were previously unable to gather the detailed evidence they needed to bring forward charges of money laundering.
However, The NCA were able to turn to the relatively new power of an Unexplained Wealth Order. This forces individuals and businesses to open up their books to prove that their wealth comes from legitimate sources.
In response to this order, Mr Hussain agreed to a settlement which saw him hand over the majority of his empire - including 45 properties, apartments, offices and homes. Once all of this property is eventually sold, the profits will be split equally between the NCA and central government.
Speaking about the case, Graeme Biggar, head of economic crime at the NCA, said: "This case is a milestone, demonstrating the power of Unexplained Wealth Orders, with significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the UK.
"This ground-breaking 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."
Duncan Hames of Transparency International, an anti-corruption and white-collar crime campaign group that campaigned for the introduction of UWOs, also welcomed the outcome of the case.
"What's important is that there is a high level of transparency so people can see justice being done," said Mr Hames. "Given the challenges on the court system, we need to be grateful when cases are brought to a conclusion - but we need to see many more of them."
The NCA have also defended the outcome of the case, claiming that the settlement had left Mr Hussain with virtually nothing other than heavily mortgaged properties. The settlement also prevented the potential for lengthy and expensive court proceedings. Investigators have also stated that there are no promises Mr Hussain will not be investigated again in the future.
How Do Unexpected Wealth Orders Work?
The case is one of the first real successes of Unexplained Wealth Orders after they were introduced into law through section 1 of the Criminal Finances Act 2017, which modified the existing Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 ('POCA').
Since the orders were created, four separate cases have been launched. Two of those cases are still being fought in the courts, while the NCA lost the third after the High Court ruled the individuals being targeted had no case to answer.
Unexpected Wealth Orders are often made without notice and in absence of the respondent. However, this does not mean that there is no scope to challenge them, as each application will need to factually, evidentially and legally sound. For the order to be followed, the enforcement authority needs to have fully complied with all of the necessary requirements.
What Should You Do If You Are Being Investigated for Money Laundering?
If you find yourself accused of money laundering, or you are concerned about a potential investigation, contact our specialist Proceeds of Crime and Confiscation solicitors today.
Our expert team specialises in defending clients who are subject to confiscation proceedings (often prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Criminal Justice Act 1988 or the Drugs Trafficking Act 1994).
We act for both defendants and third parties and our solicitors also have extensive experience acting on matters involving the Serious Fraud Office, as well as the CPS.
Contact our Proceeds of Crime and Confiscation Solicitors for Advice About Money Laundering
If you are being investigated for money laundering or are subject to confiscation proceedings, get in touch with our expert criminal defence lawyers for advice and legal representation.