Challenge to the First Unexplained Wealth Order Obtained by U.K. Enforcement Authorities is Rejected

October 11, 2018

The English High Court has dismissed an application to discharge the U.K.’s first Unexplained Wealth Order which was obtained by the National Crime Agency on February 27, 2018.

Since January 31, 2018 a number of U.K. enforcement authorities have been able to apply to the English courts for an Unexplained Wealth Order in circumstances where a person’s assets appear disproportionate to their known income.  Once granted, an Unexplained Wealth Order requires an individual or company suspected of serious crime, or a politically exposed person from outside the EEA, to explain and account for the source of their wealth.

In summary, the High Court ruled that:

  1. The respondent fell within the category of persons against whom an Unexplained Wealth Order can be made as her husband is a non-EEA PEP (by virtue of his former role as the Chairman of the state-owned International Bank of Azerbaijan).
  2. There were reasonable grounds for suspecting that a property in London owned by the respondent was purchased with unlawfully obtained income.
  3. The order did not breach the respondent’s human rights.
  4. Neither privilege against self-incrimination nor spousal privilege excuse compliance with an Unexplained Wealth Order.