Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) lost to the camp of a former Kazakhstan president after a high court junked its petition to force the latter to explain where they obtained funds to buy an £80-million property in London.
A court judge on Wednesday granted an application to discharge the unexplained wealth of c and her son Nurali Aliyev—daughter and grandson of ex-Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev—who own three high-end properties in London, of which one is equipped with an underground swimming pool and cinema in the so-called Billionaire’s Row.
The two other assets were a £310million apartment in Chelsea, and a house in Highgate.
The NCA froze the three properties over claims that they were acquired from “unlawful activities.”
The agency argued that the wealth used to buy the assets 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 for killing two bankers in 2007.
The NCA used unexplained wealth orders (UWO) in 2018, also known as “McMafia laws” to freeze the assets unless the owners explain the source of their wealth. It was the second time that such a law was used in Britain.
It said it will appeal the decision of the high court.
“UWO is new legislation and we always expected there would be a significant legal challenge over their use,” NCA director-general of the National Economic Crime Centre Graeme Biggar was quoted as saying in a report by The Guardian.
“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,” he added.
In her judgment given remotely on Wednesday, Judge Justice Lang said that the NCA’s assumptions that Rakhat Aliyev was the source of the funds were “unreliable.”
The judge said that the two accused had founded companies that owned the properties and were used 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 entire without merit,” said Nurali Aliyev.