UWO stands for Unexplained Wealth Order. It is a court order issued by a UK judge on high value assets ( properties) that were bought with suspicious means. In fact in UK, the police no longer have to prove that properties over fifty million pounds (£50000000) were acquired illegally before confiscating them from being sold on the market.
A judge can grant an Unexplained Wealth Order to the National Crime Agency (NCA) on properties that are deemed to be acquired by suspicious funds. This year 2019, a UK judge froze the ownership of three properties of a total value of more than 70 millions pounds.
The police and NCA believe that the acquisition of prime properties especially in London is a way to launder dirty money. Those money laundering activities are detrimental to the UK economy. Consequently, NCA is ready to use its powers to stop those trying to undermine UK's institutions.
In 2018, for the first time, a judge asked the former head of International Bank Of Azerbaijan to explain how he funded his 22 million pounds property purchase.
Remember that NCA can apply for the Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) if they think that there is doubt about the source of funds use to acquire the property.
Now, this does mean straight away that a crime is committed.
It means that there is a reasonable suspicion and precautionary measures are taken (freezing the assets) to avoid that the asset is liquidated before the investigation ends. The main purpose of UWO is to discourage money laundering, and preserve the integrity of UK's economy and institutions.
So the NCA would say to the owner to prove that the funds come from a genuine source. If that is the case then the case is closed. That is it.
Indeed assets of more than £50000000, that is a lot of money.
Also if it comes from a foreign country, the UK authorities want to check its source. This should not be a big deal for an honest property investor. Shouldn't it?
The NCA wants to scrutinize the source of the funds used to buy the property.
Personally, I think it is healthy for the real estate sector to avoid market distortions and property price manipulation especially in the prime location in London.
The money laundering agents often resort to offshore companies with the main agents in a foreign country.
The public was asking a lot of questions about properties that were bought in London, and were left empty since the day they were bought. Some of those transactions were even in cash. So the time has come to restore the public confidence in the real estate sector in the United Kingdom.
Other countries were also pointing fingers to London, and that is not a good thing. Now, the pressure is on the owner to demonstrate that the fund used to purchase the property is really clean.
Have you purchased a property in a prime location in London that is over 50 million pounds?
Now is the time to start gathering the evidence of the genuine funds that you have used. Get everything ready. Be honest and straightforward. When NCA comes and says: hey! show me the proof.
You'll just hand them what they are looking for. And it would not be a shock to you anymore. It really will be less stressful. Won't it?
The last thing you want is to have your reputation tarnished in the papers or Web before you vindicate yourself after many months.
If you have been money laundering in London before, well just know that game's over. NCA will surely apply for an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) in a British Court.
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