UK Moves to Freeze the Assets of Suspected Criminals

By Vaughn Hoisington | United Kingdom

On January 31, the United Kingdom introduced Unexplained Wealth Orders.

This provision of the Criminal Finances Act, and the supporting Interim Freezing Orders allow authorities to freeze any assets worth over £50,000 if the individual in possession of said assets is unable to provide a legal explanation of how they acquired the assets in 48 hours, excluding weekends and some holidays.

In order for Unexplained Wealth Orders to be issued, the High Court must be provided sufficient evidence that proves, or suggests reasonable ground to believe that the respondent’s lawfully obtained income is less than the value of their obtained property.

UWOs can be applied to anyone with assets in the United Kingdom, including politicians and officials outside of the European Economic Area, or any Politically Exposed Persons that are affiliated with them. The utilization of an EEA or PEP Unexplained Wealth Order would require suspicion of serious criminality.

UK Security Minister Ben Wallace has stated that he wants to use the Criminal Finances Act to hit any criminals and corrupt politicians sheltering assets in Britain with the “full force of the government.”

According to The Times, two test cases of implementing the orders are being prepared, and dozens of individuals have been targeted for future investigations.

Anyone able to prove that their assets were wrongly suspended by an Interim Freezing Order can apply for compensation if they can provide evidence of a loss suffered because of said order.