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Success for National Crime Agency following Unexplained Wealth Order

Mansoor Hussain, a property developer from Leeds has agreed to pay the National Crime Agency the sum of £10m following evidence submitted pursuant to an Unexplained Wealth Order. A Civil Recovery Order confirming the settlement was apparently made in the High Court on 2 October 2020. It has been reported that Mr Hussain was not represented in the case.

An Unexplained Wealth Order [‘UWO’] is a creature of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 which expanded the remit of civil recovery powers introduced by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. A UWO is an Order of the High Court requiring the Respondent to make a statement regarding his or her interest in items of property which are specified in the Order. Effectively, it is a (perhaps unnecessary) extension to pre-existing powers for the High Court to Order disclosure of assets within a Property Freezing Order. Both orders have their genesis in the Freezing Order (or Mareva Injunction) jurisprudence. The requirements for the making of the Order are fourfold.

The High Court must be satisfied:

1. That the Respondent holds the subject property;

2. That the value of the property is at least £50,000;

3. That there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the known income of the Respondent would be insufficient to purchase the Property; and

4. Either the Respondent is a Politically Exposed Person [PEP] or that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that he or a person connected with him has been involved in serious crime.

It is a criminal offence to make false statements in purported compliance with the Order and, perhaps more significantly, non-compliance will give rise to a presumption that the subject property is ‘recoverable property’ and will consequently be the subject of forfeiture proceedings. Evidence obtained pursuant to an Unexplained Wealth Order will be used as part of a civil recovery investigation undertaken by the National Crime Agency.

In Mr Hussain’s case, the NCA alleged that that he had acquired his unexplained wealth by laundering money for alleged criminal gangs in the North of England. His offer of settlement apparently consists of the value of a number of properties and £600,000 in cash. The first UWO was made against Zamira Hajiyeva. The power to make an UWO has been in force since January 2018 but the Order against Mr Hussain is apparently only the fourth made since inception.

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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.