A UK businessman with links to serious criminals has surrendered property worth nearly £10m after an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) was issued to force him to reveal where his money came from.
The National Crime Agency secured an UWO against eight properties owned by 40-year-old Mansoor ‘Manni’ Mahmood Hussain, of Leeds.
UWOs, introduced in the UK’s Criminal Finance Act 2017, are civil orders which compel people to provide information about the sources of their wealth, or risk having their assets seized or frozen. The “milestone” UWO against Hussain is the first obtained solely on an individual’s alleged involvement in serious organised crime.
Hussain submitted 127 lever arch folders and a 76-page statement to explain where his money came from for the properties – but he inadvertently gave NCA investigators clues to make a bigger case against him.
A freezing order was obtained stopping the sale or transfer of the original eight properties, plus a further nine that were identified.
The NCA argued that Hussain had failed to fully comply with the requirements of the UWO and his non-compliance provided a good case that a number of the properties were funded by criminal associates.
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 claimed.
Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, NCA, said the case has “significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the UK”.
Biggar said: “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.
As part of the first recovery in a UWO case, Hussain agreed to hand over 45 properties in London, Cheshire and Leeds, four parcels of land, as well as other assets and £583,950 in cash, with a combined value of £9,802,828.
The settlement was agreed on 24th August, and the High Court sealed the recovery order on 2 October 2020.
The first ever UWO was secured in February 2018 against £30m worth of assets held by Zamira Hajiyeva and her husband.
However, earlier this year the NCA faced a setback when two prominent Kazakhstan citizens persuaded the High Court to discharge three UWOs. The UWOs related to homes the NCA suspected were acquired by relatives of a deceased Kazakh official Rahat Aliyev, to launder the proceeds of crime.
The court ruled that the NCA’s assumption that Rakhat Aliyev was the source of the money was unreliable.