The UWO has been obtained against "a businessman from the north of England" believed to have funded a £10 million property empire with a number of criminal associates involved in drug trafficking, armed robberies and supplying firearms. Interim freezing orders were also obtained.
Under s362A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the NCA (as an enforcement authority) has the power to obtain UWOs. In order to obtain a UWO the individual is required to either be a "politically exposed person" or a person, who there are reasonable grounds to believe, is or has been involved in serious crime or is connected with a person involved in serious crime. This UWO is the first to be obtained based solely on the ground of being involved in, or connected with, serious organised crime.
Enforcement authorities have been able to apply for UWOs since their introduction in January 2018. UWOs are a draconian civil investigation tool which are used to compel an individual to explain the nature and extent of their interest in particular property and to explain how the property was obtained if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual's known, lawfully obtained income would be insufficient to enable the individual to obtain the property. To obtain a UWO the Court must also be satisfied that the individual holds the property and the property's value is greater than £50,000 – this also includes property that has been held by the individual prior to the introduction of UWOs.
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