Unexplained Wealth Orders—UWOs
Produced in partnership with Leon Kazakos of 2 Hare Court
Unexplained Wealth Orders—UWOs

The following Corporate Crime guidance note Produced in partnership with Leon Kazakos of 2 Hare Court provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Unexplained Wealth Orders—UWOs
  • The unexplained wealth order (UWO) created by the Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA 2017)
  • The reasoning behind the creation of UWOs in the CFA 2017
  • Overview of the UWO regime
  • Key sections and provisions of the legislation
  • Procedure for applying for UWOs
  • Basis on which a UWO can be made
  • Time limit for a response to a UWO—the Response Period
  • What happens if there is a failure to comply with a UWO?
  • Offence of making a false statement in purported compliance with a UWO
  • more

The unexplained wealth order (UWO) created by the Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA 2017)

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA 2017), in addition to creating new corporate offences (see Practice Note: Failure to prevent the criminal facilitation of tax evasion—the offences), created additional investigatory powers available to enforcement authorities in High Court Civil Recovery Proceedings under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 2002), see Practice Note: Criminal Finances Act 2017—progress through Parliament [Archived].

From 31 January 2018, Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), introduced by CFA 2017, can be used to help identify and then (with ancillary orders) freeze the assets of individuals who are reasonably suspected to have been enriched by criminal activity, including corruption.

The reasoning behind the creation of UWOs in the CFA 2017

It is a requirement under the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) for states to consider introducing an illicit enrichment offence.

In considering whether the POCA 2002 was still adequate in meeting the challenges posed to investigating authorities in their efforts to detect, prevent and disrupt economic crime a decision was taken in government to enhance the powers available to enforcement authorities in the civil recovery regime under POCA 2002, Pt 5. That decision indicates that the powers already available were insufficient. This includes the powers of the courts to:

  1. confiscate assets