The High Court in London froze three London homes worth more than £80m. This is the second-ever use of anti-corruption orders to stop foreigners laundering cash in the UK. Last week Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) captured a foreign official. However, his identity was not revealed in the court.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) demands that the subject explains the source of wealth. The homes of such suspects cannot be sold or given to new owners until the investigation is over. According to reports, such properties are held by offshore companies.
The UWOs are a new anti-financial crime power which targets foreigners outside the European Economic Area (EEA). These are suspected to have laundered stolen money by buying British properties. The NCA can ask the high court to seize the properties if the subject – known as a “politically exposed person” cannot explain the source of the wealth. This measure aims to target people who have committed frauds and embezzlements in foreign countries.
Zamira Hajiyeva was the first one against whom the UWO was used. She is the wife of an Azerbaijan banker who lives in a £12m London home and owns a Berkshire golf course. A revelation was made by the court wherein she spent £16m in Harrods over a decade without raising suspicions. As a result Hajiyeva not only denies wrongdoing but is also appealing against the potential loss of her property.
Recently in a statement, the NCA said three more recent orders were issued against property in “prime locations” in the capital.