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Unexplained Wealth Orders

The UK has recently introduced unexplained wealth orders, which require individuals to explain their interest in specified property and the source of wealth used to acquire it.

They can act as a gateway to forfeit the property under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or to acquire information which can be used to further other investigations.

It is essential to formulate an immediate strategy to challenge or respond to such orders.

Contact us immediately.

An unexplained wealth order can be made in respect of any property valued at more than £50,000, wherever in the world it is situated, if a court is satisfied that there is reasonable cause to believe a person has an interest in it and reasonable grounds to suspect that they would not have been able to obtain that property using their lawfully obtained income from known sources. The court must also be satisfied that the person against whom the order is made is a politically exposed person from a state outside the European Economic Area, a person about whom there are reasonable grounds to suspect involvement in serious crime, or is closely connected to a person in either one of those categories.

Once made, the person will be given a limited amount of time in which to respond. A failure to respond can be relied upon in civil recovery proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002: it reverses the burden of proof to require the person to prove that the property is not the proceeds of crime, rather than requiring the state to prove that it is. Regardless of whether civil recovery proceedings are commenced, the response can be used to inform other investigations, including criminal investigations.

Accordingly it is essential to seek expert advice immediately upon receipt of an unexplained wealth order.

We have extensive experience advising clients affected by proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and unparalleled expertise in representing clients facing internationally focused investigation. Peters & Peters can help devise an appropriate strategy for those affected by unexplained wealth orders.