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These hearings will establish the case law on which future judgments will be based, so it is vital that we get this right.”

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(This April 8 sto­ry cor­rects to show all three prop­er­ties worth 80 mil­lion pounds and Aliyev con­nect­ed to one prop­er­ty)

LONDON (Reuters) — London’s High Court removed anti-graft orders against the grand­son of the for­mer pres­i­dent of Kazakhstan on Wednesday, deal­ing a blow to pow­ers that British crime fight­ers use to tar­get dirty mon­ey.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) had sought Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) against the com­pa­nies which owned a London man­sion in which Nurali Aliyev lived, as well as two oth­er prop­er­ties, to try to force them to explain where the mon­ey to buy the prop­er­ties had come from.

However, On Wednesday, the High Court ruled in favour of Aliyev over the house con­nect­ed to him and dis­charged the orders against the com­pa­nies which owned the three prop­er­ties.

The court’s pow­er­ful judg­ment demon­strates the NCA obtained the orders on an inac­cu­rate basis as part of a flawed inves­ti­ga­tion which was entire­ly with­out mer­it,” Aliyev, the grand­son of for­mer Kazakh pres­i­dent Nursultan Nazarbayev, said in state­ment.

The NCA delib­er­ate­ly ignored the rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion I vol­un­tar­i­ly pro­vid­ed and pur­sued a ground­less and vicious legal action, includ­ing mak­ing shock­ing slurs against me, my fam­i­ly and my coun­try.”

The case involved only the sec­ond time that Britain has used UWOs since they were intro­duced in 2018 in an attempt to stem the bil­lions of dol­lars of dirty mon­ey flow­ing through the coun­try each year.

The NCA want­ed Aliyev to explain the source of funds used to buy the man­sion in north London where he lived with his wife and chil­dren which has an under­ground swim­ming pool, a cin­e­ma, say­ing it and two oth­er prop­er­ties were worth some 80 mil­lion pounds ($104 mil­lion).

It had argued the mon­ey used to buy the house and the two oth­er prop­er­ties was linked to Rakhat Aliyev — Nurali Aliyev’s father and the for­mer pres­i­den­t’s son-in-law — who was found hanged in an Austrian jail in 2015 after being charged with the mur­der of two bankers in 2007.

Lawyers for two off­shore com­pa­nies that own the prop­er­ties said the case was “tis­sue paper thin” and that the fund­ing had come from Aliyev’s moth­er, Dariga Nazarbayeva, who was eco­nom­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent.

A spokesman for Dariga Nazarbayeva said that Wednesday’s judge­ment “entire­ly vin­di­cat­ed” her.

It is frus­trat­ing and dis­ap­point­ing that she has had to take this action to fight these dra­con­ian pro­ceed­ings and clear her name,” the spokesman said.

The NCA said it would appeal against the rul­ing.

Unexplained Wealth Orders are new leg­is­la­tion and we always expect­ed there would be sig­nif­i­cant legal chal­lenge over their use,” said Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre.

These hear­ings will estab­lish the case law on which future judg­ments will be based, so it is vital that we get this right.”

Britain’s first UWOs were issued against a Knightsbridge house and a golf course belong­ing to Jahangir Hajiyeva, jailed in Azerbaijan for embez­zle­ment from the state bank, and his wife, Zamira, who spent 16.3 mil­lion pounds in the London depart­ment store Harrods.

(Reporting by Michael Holden and Elizabeth Howcroft; edit­ing by Stephen Addison and Jon Boyle)

UK crime agency loses case against ex-Kazakh president’s family

Judge over­turns unex­plained wealth orders that led to freez­ing of London prop­er­ties

Britain’s National Crime Agency has lost a high court attempt to force the daugh­ter and grand­son of a for­mer pres­i­dent of Kazakhstan to explain where they got the mon­ey to buy £80m of prop­er­ty in London.

Last year, the NCA froze three of the family’s prop­er­ties, includ­ing a man­sion on north London’s so-called Billionaire’s Row with an under­ground swim­ming pool and cin­e­ma, over claims they were acquired using pro­ceeds from unlaw­ful activ­i­ty.

The agency used unex­plained wealth orders (UWOs), a pow­er intro­duced in 2018 known as “McMafia” laws after the BBC’s organ­ised crime dra­ma and book that inspired it, to freeze the assets until the own­er explains the source of their wealth. This case is only the sec­ond time such an order has been used in Britain.

On Wednesday, a high court judge grant­ed an appli­ca­tion to dis­charge the unex­plained wealth orders.

The NCA said it would appeal against the deci­sion.

One of the prop­er­ties, a man­sion in Hampstead, is occu­pied by Nurali Aliyev, the grand­son of for­mer Kazakh pres­i­dent Nursultan Nazarbayev, and his wife and chil­dren.

The two oth­er prop­er­ties frozen are an apart­ment in Chelsea, south-west London, which the cam­paign group Transparency International says is worth £31m, and a house in Highgate, north London.

The NCA has barred any attempt to sell the prop­er­ties and argues that the wealth used to buy them was linked to Rakhat Aliyev – Nurali Aliyev’s father and the for­mer president’s son-in-law – who was found hanged in an Austrian jail in 2015 after being charged with the mur­der of two bankers in 2007.

UWOs are new leg­is­la­tion and we always expect­ed there would be sig­nif­i­cant legal chal­lenge over their use,” said Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s direc­tor gen­er­al of the National Economic Crime Centre.

We dis­agree with this deci­sion to dis­charge the UWOs and will be fil­ing an appeal. We have been very clear that we will use all the leg­is­la­tion at our dis­pos­al to pur­sue sus­pect­ed illic­it finance and we will con­tin­ue to do so.”

The ulti­mate ben­e­fi­cial own­ers of the three prop­er­ties — Rakhat Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the chair of the sen­ate in Kazakhstan and daugh­ter of the for­mer Kazakh pres­i­dent Nursultan Nazarbayev, and her son, Nurali Aliyev — applied to the high court to dis­charge the UWOs.

Giving judg­ment remote­ly on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Lang over­turned all three UWOs, rul­ing that “the NCA’s assump­tion” that Rakhat Aliyev was the source of the funds to pur­chase the three prop­er­ties was unre­li­able.

The judge said there was “cogent evi­dence” that Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had found­ed the com­pa­nies that owned the prop­er­ties and pro­vid­ed the funds to pur­chase them.

The court’s pow­er­ful judg­ment demon­strates the NCA obtained the orders on an inac­cu­rate basis as part of a flawed inves­ti­ga­tion which was entire­ly with­out mer­it,” said Nurali Aliyev.

Britain’s first UWOs were issued against assets belong­ing to Jahangir Hajiyev, who was in prison in Azerbaijan for embez­zle­ment from the state bank, and his wife, Zamira, who spent £16.3m in the London depart­ment store Harrods. She lost her appeal against the order this year.

Britain’s first UWOs were issued against assets belong­ing to Jahangir Hajiyev, who was in prison in Azerbaijan for embez­zle­ment from the state bank, and his wife, Zamira, who spent £16.3m in the London depart­ment store Harrods. She lost her appeal against the order this year.

Orritain’s first UWOs were issued against assets belong­ing to Jahangir Hajiyev, who was in prison in Azerbaijan for embez­zle­ment from the state bank, and his wife, Zamira, who spent £16.3m in the London depart­ment store Harrods. She lost her appeal against the order this year.

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