Thursday 6 February 2020

UK: England and Wales: undisclosed wealth orders

Mrs Zamira Hajiyeva is the subject of the first unexplained wealth order to be made under section 362A(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (and introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017). In 2018 she applied, unsuccessfully, to the High Court for the order to be discharged: see [2018] EWHC 2534 (Admin). Her subsequent appeal to the Court of Appeal was also unsuccessful: see, from yesterday, Hajiyeva v National Crime Agency [2020] EWCA Civ 108.

One of the issues before the court was the definition of 'politically exposed person'. Section 362B(7) provides the following definition (as recently amended, but not in a way material to the appeal, by the Law Enforcement and Security (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019): "(a) an individual who is, or has been, entrusted with prominent public functions by an international organisation or by a State other than (i) the United Kingdom, or (ii) an EEA State, (b) a family member of a person within paragraph (a), (c) known to be a close associate of a person within that paragraph, or (d) otherwise connected with a person within that paragraph".

The Court of Appeal held that this definition did not require the individual to be specifically entrusted either by an international organisation or by a State: the focus should be on the status of the entrusted person and not how they came to be entrusted with prominent public functions. As such, it rejected the argument that Mrs Hajiyeva's husband - the former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, controlled by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (the State) - had to be specifically appointed by the State to be regarded as a politically exposed person.

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