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Nicola Sharp on unexplained wealth orders not proving to be the success many expected them to be

Author: Nicola Sharp  13 May 2021

Nicola Sharp argues that unexplained wealth orders have failed to live up to the hype.

Hopes were high for unexplained wealth orders (UWOS) when they were introduced in the UK’s Criminal Finances Act 2017.

But, according to Rahman Ravelli’s Nicola Sharp, they have so far failed meet expectations that they would be a powerful weapon for the authorities in their battle with organised crime.

Nicola wrote an article assessing the impact of UWOs on the legal landscape. It was published by GRC World Forums.

In her piece, Nicola outlines the UWO process. She explains that they have not been used nearly as often as some of their supporters expected. Her article also details some of the failures and successes since UWOs were introduced.

While the first UWO case involving Zamira Hajiyeva, the big-spending wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker, has so far been a success for the National Crime Agency (NCA), not every one has gone so well. Last year, the High Court quashed UWOs obtained by the NCA over real estate owned by Dariga Nazarbayeva - the daughter of Kazakhstan’s ex-president - and her son and criticised the agency’s conduct.

Nicola points out that, so far, it is only the NCA that has used UWOs. Two years ago the NCA was saying it had identified 100 potential targets for UWOs, yet they had only been used in four cases by the end of 2020.

In her article, Nicola says the authorities may start to use UWOs as a simple way of bringing action against smaller targets. This would mean more UWOs but these would be of small risk and low value. While she does not think UWOs are without merit, she believes they are yet to justify the fanfare that accompanied their arrival.

Nicola's article featured in GRC World Forums.

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Nicola Sharp


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Nicola is known for her fraud, civil recovery, arbitration and business crime expertise, her experience of leading the largest financial disputes and multinational investigations and her skills in devising preventative measures and conducting internal investigations for corporates.

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