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Successful High Court Challenge | Unexplained Wealth Orders | Rosenblatt Financial Crime Team

22nd April 2020

It was announced on 8th April 2020 that two members of Kazakhstan’s political elite had won a High Court challenge against Unexplained Wealth Orders.

Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team are regularly instructed by companies and individuals who find themselves subject to Unexplained Wealth Orders.

Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team outlines the latest judgment made by the High Court following applications for Unexplained Wealth Orders made by the National Crime Agency (“NCA”) against three luxury London homes.  This included a mansion on north London’s “Billionaire’s Row”.

The Applications made by the National Crime Agency | Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team

The NCA obtained orders to seize property valued at more than £80m, owned by the daughter and grandson of the former Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The application was based on the suspicion the three properties were bought with the Proceeds of Crime.  This was money belonging to the now deceased Rakhat Aliyev a senior official of the government of Kazakhstan who died in an Austrian prison awaiting trial on charges of murder.

The beneficial owners of the homes, Nurali Aliyev and his mother, Dariga Nazarbayeva a leading Kazakh politician both denied any wrongdoing.  It was submitted that they could prove independent and legitimate wealth for these property investments.

An application was made to the High Court to discharge the Unexplained Wealth Orders.

What are Unexplained Wealth Orders? | Rosenblatt’s Financial Crime Team Explains

The new powers of “unexplained wealth orders” commenced on 31st January 2018, following the passing of the Criminal Finances Act 2017.

The High Court, may on application made by an enforcement authority, make an Unexplained Wealth Order in respect of any property if the court is satisfied that the respondent holds the property, the value of the property is greater than £50,000 and there is reasonable grounds for suspecting that the known sources of the respondent’s lawfully obtained income would have been insufficient for the purposes of enabling the respondent to obtain the property.

The court must also be satisfied that the respondent is a politically exposed person, or there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the respondent, is or has been, involved in serious crime (whether in the UK or elsewhere), or a person connected with the respondent is, or has been, so involved.

The Orders can require owners to disclose how they managed to buy a luxury asset such as a property.  If the enforcement authority are not satisfied with the explanation provided, an application to the court can be made to confiscate the asset.

The High Court Judgment | Rosenblatt Financial Crime Team

Mrs Justice Lang granted the applications to discharge the Orders and ruled that the NCA’s case was “flawed by inadequate investigation into some obvious lines of enquiry”.

The NCA is filing an appeal against the judgment made.  The head of the NCA’s national economic crime centre, Graeme Biggar stated:

“The NCA is tenacious.  We have been very clear that we will use all the legislation at our disposal to pursue suspected illicit finance and will continue to do so”.

Rosenblatt can help

Rosenblatt has a wealth or experience in financial crime legal work and is uniquely placed to support clients financial crime needs, from the investigatory stage to trial and defending any court orders made in the interim, as part of criminal proceedings.

Contact us

Should you wish to discuss the services we offer further please contact Frances Murray at frances.murray@rosenblatt-law.co.uk or 07384 917 915.