Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Wednesday, 03 October 2018

NCA wins first UWO case

A High Court judge has rejected a motion to overturn an unexplained wealth order (UWO) that the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) levelled at an unnamed wife of a banker to explain how she could afford British properties worth £22 million.  

The woman, identified only as “Mrs A”, had asked a High Court judge to lift the UK’s first-ever UWO in July

The NCA, the first UK authority to obtain UWOs since they came into effect in January, has said it expects to seek several more this year.

Liberia finds missing bank notes

Liberia’s central bank governor Nathaniel Patray said that an internal audit has located the $104 million in bank notes that the nation previously thought had been lost, Reuters reports.

Patray said the notes, which reportedly account for approximately 5% of the countrys GDP, had been properly accounted for and stored in the central bank’s reserve vaults, but provided no further details.

Liberia launched an investigation into the missing banknotes in September. The government banned 15 officials from leaving the country, including the central bank’s former governor Milton Weeks, who denied wrongdoing. 

Malaysian anti-corruption commission arrests Najib’s wife

The Malaysian anti-corruption commission (MACC) arrested Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysia’s former prime minister, on 3 October after she was called in to give a statement linked to investigations into misuse of funds at the 1MDB state investment fund.  

According to the MACC's statement to the press, Rosmah will be charged on 4 October with several counts under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, Anti-Terrorism Financing Act and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act. Her husband, Najib Razak, has already been charged with 32 counts of money laundering, abuse of power, and criminal breach of trust.

Both Najib and his wife have publicly denied all charges of wrongdoing. 

SFO director decides not to appeal ENRC decision

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has said it will not appeal against the Court of Appeal of England and Wales’ 5 September decision that said litigation privilege applies to mining company ENRC’s internal investigation documents because they were created in contemplation of a criminal prosecution by the agency. 

In an emailed statement, the SFO said that it “will continue thoroughly to assess the merits of all privilege claims and remains prepared to challenge those it considers to be ill-founded”. 

The SFO had challenged ENRC’s claims that privilege covered certain documents pertaining to the agencys investigation of potential bribery in Kazakhstan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The investigation is ongoing and the company denies wrongdoing.

SFO seeks civil recovery of Karimova’s UK properties

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has issued a claim for civil recovery at the High Court of England and Wales for assets, including three UK properties, that the agency alleges were obtained by Gulnara Karimova and Rustam Madumarov with proceeds of corrupt telecoms deals in Uzbekistan.

In a 3 October press release, the SFO said that a date for a court hearing on the matter will be listed in due course. 

Karimova is the daughter of former Uzbek president, Islam Karimov, while Madumarov is widely reported to be Karimova’s boyfriend. Karimova was charged in Uzbekistan with six counts of corruption and misappropriating $200 million and taken into custody in July 2017. She denies wrongdoing. 

Audi parts ways with jailed CEO

Volkswagen said in a 2 October statement that it has agreed to end its employment contract with Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, who is currently serving pre-trial detention over his alleged role in Audi’s alleged emissions-rigging scandal, with immediate effect.

Volkswagen, which is Audi’s parent company, said Stadler is “unable to fulfil his duties as a member of the board of management and wishes to concentrate on his defence”.

German police arrested Stadler on 18 June as part of an investigation by the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office II into whether Audi installed devices in its diesel cars to cheat diesel emissions tests.

European Commission to demand better AML enforcement in Malta

The European Commission is preparing to issue binding demands on Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) financial watchdog to remedy “systematic” weaknesses in its enforcement of anti-money laundering rules, according to reports. 

The news follows a July report by the European Banking Authority (EBA), which highlighted systematic shortcomings in the FIAU’s application of the EU’S anti-money laundering directive. 

If the FIAU fails to implement the measures, the EBA can give direct orders to Maltese banks to meet EU standards, such as requirements for customer background checks.

The commission has until 12 November to formally issue the opinion, after which the FIAU will have 10 days to reply and set out what changes it intends to make.

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