The U.K.’s National Crime Agency announced it has frozen eight bank accounts containing more than £100m (U.S. $121 million), which it suspects derived from bribery and corruption overseas. This represents the largest amount of money frozen to date.
“The NECC leads U.K. law enforcement efforts to tackle illicit finance, bringing the capabilities of multiple agencies together against the threat,” said Ben Russell, NCA’s deputy director of the National Economic Crime Centre. “In the last year, the NCA has used new powers—such as Unexplained Wealth Orders and Account Freezing Orders—to target suspected illicit assets, and we are already seeing some far-reaching impact of this activity.”
The Account Freezing Orders (AFOs), obtained at Westminster Magistrates Court on Aug. 12, “represent the largest amount of money frozen using AFOs” since they were introduced under the 2017 Criminal Finances Act, the NCA said. The orders will allow the NCA to further investigate the funds. If found to be derived from—or intended for use in—unlawful conduct, the NCA said it will seek to recover the money.
According to the agency, approximately £20m (U.S. $24 million) held by an individual linked to the latest orders was frozen following a hearing in 2018. The NCA did not, however, provide details identifying individuals linked to those accounts.
In unrelated cases from earlier this year, the NCA secured an account forfeiture order against more than £400,000 (U.S. $485,000) held in frozen bank accounts belonging to a Moldovan national. Another forfeiture order was granted on money held in an account belonging to the niece of Syrian ruler, Bashar al-Assad.