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Rapid Response Team: 0800 559 3500
Switchboard: +44 (0)203 947 1539
Rapid Response Team: 0800 559 3500
Switchboard: +44 (0)203 947 1539

Nicola Sharp considers why enforcement agencies remain reluctant to use unexplained wealth orders

Author: Nicola Sharp  2 March 2023

With unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) not being used anywhere near as much as their supporters hoped, Nicola Sharp wrote about the reasons why.

Introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017 to enable law enforcement agencies to compel individuals or companies to explain how they obtained certain assets which were believed to have been obtained illegally, UWOs were viewed as a step forward. Yet there have only been nine UWOs so far. These related to a total of four cases.

In her article, Nicola cites the government’s Foreign Affairs Committee calling UWOs spectacularly unsuccessful.

She explains why a lack of resources and the risks involved may be why the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and National Crime Agency (NCA) are not turning to UWOs as often as expected.

Nicola details how the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022, passed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gave the UWO regime “some extra muscle’’. But she adds that this has not led to increased use of UWOs – in stark contrast to the popularity of account freezing orders.

Nicola’s article was published by Solicitors Journal.

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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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