Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) extend the powers available to UK law enforcement authorities under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), enabling investigators to ask people who are holding assets, which based on their legitimate income they would not be able to afford, to prove that such assets were obtained from legitimate sources. If the person can’t prove the assets are from a legitimate source, then the authorities can take steps to recover those assets.

How do UWOs work? What role do interim freezing orders play in the process? What are the penalties for non-compliance? How have UWOs been used thus far in the public domain? For answers to these questions, see Prove It or Lose It! – Part I: Unexplained Wealth Orders.

The UWO is the beginning of a journey that can result in assets being taken away from their owners by the state through commencement of civil legal proceedings. UK politicians and law enforcement agents have trumpeted these non-conviction-based asset-recovery powers for their ability to recover and rid the UK of laundered assets. However, many obstacles remain in pursuit of this goal. See Prove It or Lose It! Part II: Civil Recovery Orders for a review of these civil-recovery powers under POCA against the backdrop of UWOs.

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Photo of Gareth Hall Gareth Hall

Gareth Hall has a range of experience representing clients throughout special investigations and criminal litigation. He has represented individuals subject to investigations conducted by the National Crime Agency (NCA), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for a…

Gareth Hall has a range of experience representing clients throughout special investigations and criminal litigation. He has represented individuals subject to investigations conducted by the National Crime Agency (NCA), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for a range of matters including complex conspiracies, fraud, money laundering and bribery. Gareth also has higher rights of audience and has appeared as an advocate, representing individuals in the Crown Court.

Photo of Barry Vitou Barry Vitou

Barry Vitou is Co-Chair of the Global White Collar Criminal Defense Practice and head of London’s White Collar Defense & Special Investigations Practice, advising corporations and individuals in connection with compliance, pre-investigations, investigations, and prosecutions conducted by numerous law enforcement agencies. Barry frequently…

Barry Vitou is Co-Chair of the Global White Collar Criminal Defense Practice and head of London’s White Collar Defense & Special Investigations Practice, advising corporations and individuals in connection with compliance, pre-investigations, investigations, and prosecutions conducted by numerous law enforcement agencies. Barry frequently represents clients under investigation by U.K. and U.S. law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, including the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Financial Conduct Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Barry regularly appears on television and radio, discussing the topics of corruption, money laundering, and the UK Bribery Act.

Photo of Anne-Marie Ottaway Anne-Marie Ottaway

Anne-Marie Ottaway focuses on white collar and economic crime and government and internal investigations. Acknowledged for her criminal defence work, Anne-Marie provides clients with advice on all aspects of investigations relating to allegations of fraud, bribery, and corruption, as well as providing advice…

Anne-Marie Ottaway focuses on white collar and economic crime and government and internal investigations. Acknowledged for her criminal defence work, Anne-Marie provides clients with advice on all aspects of investigations relating to allegations of fraud, bribery, and corruption, as well as providing advice in respect of the implementation of effective anti-fraud, bribery and corruption compliance programmes and related anti-money laundering issues. She is recognized by Chambers & Partners for her “growing reputation for defending corporate clients subject to fraud and bribery allegations.”