High Court dismisses NCA’s attempt to use unexplained wealth order – comment

Earlier today the High Court dismissed the NCA’s attempt to use an unexplained wealth order (UWO) to seize three London homes worth £80m from the son of a Kazakh government official. Aziz Rahman, Senior Partner at Business Crime Solicitors Rahman Ravelli commented on the ruling: “The NCA has been accused of conducting a flawed investigation – to the extent that the judge has expressed surprise that the Agency did not follow up certain lines of enquiry when asked to by the respondents and ignored evidence put forward by them.

“It is extraordinary that the NCA brought this case so far when it had been presented with evidence that indicated that a UWO was clearly not appropriate. The NCA seems to have been dogged in this case but that outlook has led to tunnel vision being employed when what was actually needed was a thorough look at all the evidence available.

“If anything, this case shows that a legal challenge can be worthwhile in such circumstances – as the granting of a UWO against someone has to be seen as the start of the process rather than the end.

“It looks very likely that this is a case that will end up in the Court of Appeal – and may go further. But I would hope that today’s decision will at least emphasise to the NCA the importance of conducting a comprehensive and prudent investigation.

“This is not the first time that the NCA has been criticised for the way it has carried out an investigation – and it is set to be a costly lesson to what is a taxpayer-funded organisation. Maybe this can serve as a wake-up call for the Agency that will help it reassess how it should approach existing and future investigations.’’