Widely known as targeting the rich beneficiaries of country corruption in Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union, a current case indicates they might also be utilized against a very different group of people: the individual professionals that advise that the wealthy. This is an important advancement in how UWOs are used by law enforcement that anybody working in an advisory role in this discipline will be sensible to comprehend fully.
Based on media reports of this instance, one of the people necessary to advise the courtroom was a solicitor, called Andrew Baker, who was reported to be the president of two Panamanian foundations that possessed two of the homes in question. Baker has been”connected” into Nurali Aliyev’s now-deceased father, the NCA allegedly alleged. He responded there wasn’t any evidence to indicate he had been”anything aside from a lawyer of extreme integrity.”
While not surprising (I and many others specializing in this kind of work have been calling that this development for a while ), this is the first documented instance where a legal adviser has come to be personally entangled at a UWO.
Back in September 2018, Donald Toon, leader of the NCA’s economic offense, cautioned in a newspaper interview he would use the laws to come after what he called the”specialist enablers” of financial crime. “Can we now have concerns about the efficacy of… client due diligence in portions of the legal profession and accountancy industry? Yes, we surely do,” Toon informed the Financial Times.
At the moment, many attorneys and accountants bridled in Toon’s characterization of the job, and refused his remarks since saber-rattling. However, the Aliyev case indicates that he’s ready to follow through on his threat.
UWOs are often regarded as a punishment imposed on wealthy people, but that is incorrect. They’re an investigative power requiring individuals against whom they are issued to supply details of the resources.
The individual against whom the UWO is searched (the respondent) possesses the land in question;
The land is currently worth more than 50,000;
There are reasonable grounds to suspect that the respondent’s lawfully obtained income is inadequate to have paid to your house;
The respondent is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), a relative of a PEP, or even”… is, or continues to be, involved with serious offense (if in part of the UK or elsewhere).” In a nutshell, those”connected” into PEPs and people involved in crime.
Professional advisers may well discover that under the conditions of the Act, law enforcement takes the opinion that they’re a more”connected” individual. If this is so, they also, as Toon predicted, could become the goal of a UWO. The consequences for this individual may be life-altering.
Simply responding to some UWO petition is very likely to be an onerous, time-consuming, and costly procedure that might involve reviewing a huge quantity of documentation going back years — possibly decades. There may be complicated issues of legal professional privilege and responsibilities of confidentiality to manage, obligations to customers that persist after the job is completed.
There might also be a threat to the person’s professional standing. Law enforcers may opt to examine them to labs in almost any function.
In the end, there’s the danger of criminal prosecution under the civil UWO actions — something which should stay foremost in thoughts of anybody participating with a UWO petition.
The NCA has declared that it plans to appeal the High Court’s conclusion from the Aliyev case. These hearings will set the case law about which future conclusions will be established, therefore people must get this right. The NCA is stubborn. We’ve been quite clear that we’ll use all of the laws at our disposal to pursue suspected illegal finance and we’ll keep doing so.”
This is supposed to be taken as a clear statement of objective in which UK law enforcement is well prepared to exploit the entire potential of these highly effective new steps.
The Aliyev instance shows that professional advisors might become personally involved in the UWO problems surrounding work they’ve done because of their high net-worth customers. Those professionals are well-advised to take good care to safeguard themselves from unfounded allegations of being the enablers of high-end unlawful conduct. This may involve many different steps before, during, and after the trades have occurred.