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Assets seized following ‘dirty money’ investigation

Service Area: Criminal and Regulatory

Member: Roger Isaacs

More than £190 million of assets have been seized from a Pakistani businessman after a settlement in a so-called ‘dirty money’ investigation.

The settlement is the result of an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private-sector employers in Pakistan.

NCA investigators secured nine freezing orders against his assets in the UK, which includes a £50 million mansion, boasting a cinema, swimming pool, gym and spa overlooking Hyde Park, and £140 million in funds held in UK bank accounts, which are alleged to be the proceeds of crime.

Both the money and ownership of the property will be handed over to the Government in Pakistan, where Mr Hussain is the subject of fraud and corruption charges.

These are not the first freezing orders secured by NCA investigators against the defendant. The agency first froze £20 million of Mr Hussain’s funds a year ago and in August this year served a court order on him that covered £120 million across eight additional bank accounts.

Mr Hussain is the owner of Bahria Town, Asia’s largest privately held property development company. One of his projects, Bahria Town Karachi, is Asia’s largest private property project, covering 46,000 acres with plans for the world’s third-largest mosque, a cricket stadium and a 36-hole PGA golf course.

The NCA has not disclosed the allegations that led to the freezing orders on the assets but the agency has said that its settlement with the family was a civil, rather than a criminal matter and “does not represent findings of guilt”.

Asset freezing orders were introduced alongside Unexplained Wealth Orders under the Criminal Finances Act 2017. Both are tools that enable the NCA to investigate the source of funds used to buy UK assets.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Before any action such as this can take place the Courts must be satisfied that the NCA is acting lawfully in freezing a person’s assets and be certain that each asset is the property of the defendant.

“To achieve this, investigators will often rely on the expertise of forensic accountants, who can identify money trails and reveal any hidden assets linked to an individual.”

Author Roger Isaacs
9 December 2019

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