Author: Azizur Rahman 9 March 2022
With the UK government set to make changes to the unexplained wealth order (UWO) regime due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Aziz Rahman wrote an assessment of the approach.
In his article, which was published by Law360, he outlines the plans to give law enforcement agencies more time to review UWO case material and make sure they do not face unlimited legal costs if a UWO application is unsuccessful.
Aziz views the moves as an effort to strengthen the effectiveness of UWOs, which have had only mixed success since their introduction in the Criminal Finances Act 2017. UWOs, he believes, may be the most obvious means of combating the issue of dirty money in the UK associated with Vladimir Putin’s regime.
With UWOs only having been used in four cases - and none having been obtained since 2019 - some have questioned the effectiveness of them. Aziz explains that a rush to use them now could be seen as “a classic case of too little too late’’, as any possible UWO targets could have been subjected to them months or years ago.
While the changes may make UWOs more effective than they have been until now, Aziz emphasises that targeting someone with a UWO is no guarantee of success. The National Crime Agency is the only agency to have used UWOs and its record with them is patchy. One high-profile NCA failure showed that a well-planned and conducted response to the threat of a UWO can be successful.
The track record of UWOs will have to improve, Aziz concludes, if they are to play a real role in the battle against dirty money in the UK.
Aziz's article can be read on Law360. (Subscription required)
Aziz Rahman is Senior Partner at Rahman Ravelli and its founder. His ability to coordinate national, international and multi-agency defences has led to success in some of the most significant corporate crime cases of this century and top rankings in international legal guides. He is recognised worldwide as one of the most capable legal experts regarding top-level, high-value commercial and financial disputes.