Unexplained Wealth Orders: will the refusal of Zamira Hajiyeva’s appeal open the floodgates?

Unexplained Wealth Orders: will the refusal of Zamira Hajiyeva’s appeal open the floodgates?

BCL Partners John Binns and Michael Drury write for Money Laundering Bulletin, considering the implications of Court of Appeal judgment in the UK on 5 February 2020.

Here’s an extract from the article:

The travails of Mrs Zamira Hajiyeva, since she became the target of the first Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) nearly two years ago, have prompted a number of interesting questions. While the tabloid press have understandably focused on how anyone could possibly spend £16m at Harrods, they have also found some column inches to ask why the UWO – since joined by just a handful of others – has remained such a rare beast so far.

At least part of the answer to that is the authorities have been stacking up potential UWO applications while awaiting Mrs Hajiyeva’s appeal, which was granted permission precisely because it was felt useful to have a steer from the Court of Appeal on some of the knottier questions posed by the legislation. With respect to Politically Exposed Persons, for instance, we now know that the question of whether an enterprise is state-owned is to be decided without reference to local (in this case Azeri) law, the inference from a stake of over 50% being that the state had ultimate control over it; we also know that where an individual such as Mr Hajiyev is shown to have had prominent public functions, there is no need to prove specifically that he was entrusted with them by a state.

This article was originally published in full by Money Laundering Bulletin on 11th February 2020. Read the full story via pdf or on their website.

John Binns is a partner at BCL specialising in all aspects of business crime, with a particular interest in confiscation, civil recovery and money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”). His business crime experience includes representing suspects, defendants and witnesses in cases invoking allegations of bribery and corruption, fraud (including carbon credits, carousel/MTIC, land-banking, Ponzi and pyramid scheme frauds), insider trading, market abuse, price-fixing, sanctions-busting, and tax evasion. He has coordinated and undertaken corporate investigations and defended in cases brought by BEIS, the FCA, HMRC, NCA, OFT, SFO and others.

Michael Drury is a partner at BCL with a diverse practice, ranging from extradition to representing individuals in regulatory proceedings brought by the FCA; acting in criminal investigations by the SFO; and is a leading expert on surveillance and investigatory powers as well as information law and cybercrime.