A businessman in Leeds with links to serious criminals has lost his property empire worth close to £10m following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
The agency secured an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) against eight properties owned by 40-year-old Mansoor ‘Manni’ Mahmood Hussain, formerly of Sandmoor Drive in Leeds.
The NCA says Mansoor Mahmood Hussain, commonly known as Manni, acted for gangsters, including a murderer jailed for 26 years, an armed robber and a convicted fraudster who acted as his accountant.
The agency believes Hussain laundered their profits through properties across West Yorkshire, Cheshire and London acquired over two decades, while posing as a legitimate businessman.
Hussain denied the allegations, submitting 127 lever arch folders and a 76-page statement to explain where his money came from for the properties. However, the information provided inadvertently gave NCA investigators clues to make a bigger case against him.
A freezing order was obtained stopping the sale or transfer of the original eight properties owned by Hussain, plus a further nine homes that were identified by investigators.
The NCA argued that Hussain had failed to fully comply with the requirements of the UWO, and his non-compliance provided a good case that a number of the properties were funded by criminal associates.
As part of the first recovery in a UWO case, Hussain agreed to hand over 45 properties in London, Cheshire and Leeds, four parcels of land, as well as other assets and £583,950 in cash, with a combined value of £9,802,828.
The settlement was agreed on 24th August, and the High Court sealed the recovery order earlier this week.
Graeme Biggar, NCA director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, commented: “This case is a milestone, demonstrating the power of Unexplained Wealth Orders, with significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the UK.
“This ground breaking investigation has recovered of millions of pounds worth of criminally obtained property. It is crucial for the economic health of local communities such as Leeds, and for the country as a whole, that we ensure property and other assets are held legitimately.
“I am determined to bring together all the resources of the public and private sector to protect the UK economy from the corrosive impact of illicit finance.”
UWO’s were introduced under the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and came into force on 31st January 2018. The NCA secured the first UWO one month later, against £30m worth of assets held by Zamira Hajiyeva and her husband.
Associated orders introduced by the same legislation, such as Account Freezing Orders, have been obtained in in a number of civil recovery cases. The NCA has secured 85 AFOs with a combined value of more than £180m.
Reflecting on the action taken against Hussain, Andy Lewis, head of civil recovery at the NCA, said: “Mansoor Hussain thought he had hidden the criminality associated with the source of his property empire, but he didn’t count on our tenacity.
“Far from taking his UWO response at face value, we studied what he had and hadn’t divulged. We could then use that information to look far enough back to uncover the hidden skeletons in his financial closet.
“Ultimately the wealth of evidence in this case has led to a settlement which not only meets our operational goals, but frees up our investigators and legal team to pursue other cases.”