Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO)12-Feb-2018
Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO) have come into force giving new powers to the National Crime Agency, the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The new legislation allows the crime agencies to freeze and recover assets that they believe have been obtained from proceeds of crime.
The powers will be used to investigate those suspected of serious crime and where the assets in question are valued at £50,000.
It is believed the powers will be used as a tool to assist the crime agencies in targeting individuals rather than those suspected of high level organised crime and corruption.
New Powers to Crime Agencies
Critics have argued that the defence against such orders would be very difficult, with individuals having two options, to either comply with the UWO or not. Failure to comply could lead to contempt of court charges, and if misleading or false information is provided in response to a UWO, a separate criminal charge could be brought, which may lead to imprisonment.
If an individual complies with the UWO, the crime agency that imposed it must decide what action to take within 60 days.
Unexplained Wealth Orders were introduced through the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
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