High Court finds that the National Crime Agency’s investigation was flawed in Unexplained Wealth Order case


Re: National Crime Agency v Baker & Ors [2020] EWHC 882 (Admin)

This case was an application to discharge three unexplained wealth orders and related interim freezing orders. The National Crime Agency had adduced evidence to the effect that the disputed properties in the matter were acquired as a means of laundering the proceeds of unlawful conduct by an individual, ‘RA.’ The UWOs sought information about the purchases and transfers of the three properties, details about the registered owners and beneficial owners. The Respondents and Ultimate Beneficial Owners (‘UBOs’) provided extensive information but contended that the basis of the NCA’s application was factually incorrect, as the purchases were unconnected to RA, his supposed criminal activities and he was never the UBO of the properties. The NCA refused to withdraw the UWOs and the Respondents and UBOs brought judicial review proceedings.

In determining whether or not the NCA’s grounds for the making of the UWOs was lawful and justified, the Court found that in relation to Property 1 the NCA’s assumption that RA was the founder and source of its founds was unreliable. Concerning Property 3, there was no inference that it was the product of unlawful conduct while the NCA’s assumptions regarding Property 2 were found to be unreliable on the evidence. The court granted the applications to discharge the orders.  

Clare Montgomery QC was involved in this case.