An attempt to appeal the UK’s first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) has recently failed in the High Court.
In February 2018, the UK’s National Crime Agency sought an UWO against Mrs A (whose anonymity may only be temporary), seeking information about the purchase of a valuable London property. UWOs require an individual to provide a statement explaining the individual’s interest in an asset, how the individual obtained the asset and any other information specified by the order (further background in our blog article ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders – force for good or snoopers’ charter?’). It is usually a prelude to recovering unlawfully obtained property.
Although the legal owner of the property was a BVI company, Mrs A had said in her application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK that she was the beneficial owner of it. This was a crucial statement as it allowed the UWO to be made against her. Her lawyer argued that the UWO interfered with her peaceful enjoyment of the property (which was her UK home) but the judge decided that the interference was proportionate in the circumstances and confirmed that it was appropriate for the order to have been made.