Thursday, October 11, 2018


PMT: The "Unexplained Wealth Order"

I was fascinated by this story over at the BBC, regarding a woman named Zamira Hajiyevah. She's an Azerbaijani living in London, and the wife of a former state banker in Azerbaijan. It seems she... well, she spends a lot of money. A LOT. Like, $16,000,000 at Harrod's over the course of a decade.

Apparently, the whole thing is kind of fishy, and now the British are (for the first time), using something called an "Unexplained Wealth Order," which the BBC explained this way:

A UWO is a new power which has been designed to target suspected corrupt foreign officials who have potentially laundered stolen money through the UK.
Investigators from the National Crime Agency believe there are billions of pounds of dirty money invested in British property - but it is almost impossible to charge the owners with a crime or seize the assets because of a lack of evidence.
The new Unexplained Wealth Orders are an attempt to force the owners to disclose their wealth.
If a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot show a legitimate source for their riches, then the National Crime Agency can apply to the High Court to seize the property.

Is this a good idea? It seems to me like it could be a great way to go after corruption and illegal gains from drug networks and the like, but would no doubt run up against privacy concerns. Could it work in the United States?

Potentially useful tool (think Paul Manafort) but not without major concerns. Existing tools like civil asset forfeiture have been widely abused. There's great risk associated with "prove yourself innocent" laws.
No,it will most certainly not work in the United States. Where do you think the mind blowing amounts of cash generated by this country’s insatiable appetite for drugs are to be washed? Not in Bucaramanga, I suspect...the laundromats in those gazillion dollar real estate developments are more likely to do the job. I will refrain from commenting about cleaning services for the Russian oligarchs’ dirty laundry ;)
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