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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Banned: homes at centre of Crime Agency probe cannot be sold

Three ultra-high-value London properties cannot be sold while a money laundering investigation continues.

The houses have not been identified but were most recently purchased for over £80m each and are held by offshore companies. 

They are subject to three Unexplained Wealth Orders issued as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into London property linked to what is officially termed “a politically exposed person believed to be involved in serious crime.”

The UWOs were obtained at the High Court last week and apply to three residential properties in prime locations in the capital. 

Interim Freezing Orders have been granted which means that the properties cannot be sold, transferred or dissipated while the investigation continues.

Andy Lewis, head of asset denial at the NCA, says: “This is the second time the NCA has successfully secured UWOs since the new legislation was enacted. They are a powerful tool in being able to investigate illicit finance flowing into the UK and discourage it happening in the first place.

“The individuals behind these offshore companies now have to explain how the three properties were obtained.

“The NCA will not shy away from complex and detailed investigations against high profile individuals and professional enablers.”

As part of a separate case in February last year, the National Crime Agency obtained UWOs against two London properties believed to belong to jailed Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev and his wife Zamira Hajiyeva.

Now Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Economic Crime Centre says: “The purchase of prime property in London is a tactic used to launder money and we will use all the powers available to us to target those who try to do this. 

“A priority for the NECC is to ensure we explore every opportunity to deny assets linked to illicit finance. Our aim is to prevent misuse of the UK’s financial structures which undermines the integrity of the UK’s economy and institutions.”

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