A businessman linked to organised crime has had almost £10 million worth of properties, cash and land seized through an unexplained wealth order, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
Mansoor Mahmood Hussain, 40, had “strong connections” to “notorious criminals” in the Leeds and Bradford area, including a murderer currently serving 26 years in prison, the agency said.
But he has now had to give up the “vast majority” of his assets, including properties in London, Leeds and Cheshire, £583,950 in cash and four parcels of land, following an NCA investigation.
The amount seized, which includes a block of 36 apartments in Leeds, is worth more than £9.8 million and was obtained through an unexplained wealth order (UWO).
Andy Lewis, the NCA’s head of civil recovery, 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.”
Hussain, formerly of Sandmoor Drive in Leeds, came onto the NCA’s radar following an investigation into an organised crime group in the area, Mr Lewis said.
While he initially appeared to be a “successful businessman” with no previous convictions, there was a “compelling case” he was an alleged money launderer and had links to those involved in the drugs trade, Mr Lewis said.
The NCA claimed that convicted fraudster Stephen Farman had been working as his accountant for the past 15 years, and that he allowed convicted armed robber Dennis Slade to stay rent-free at his seven-bedroom house in Sandmoor Drive.
Hussain was also allegedly associated with Mohammed Nisar Khan, who is currently serving 26 years for murder, the NCA claimed.
The agency obtained a UWO from the High Court in July 2019, requiring Hussain to provide evidence about where the money came from for eight of his properties.
He complied, but subsequent investigations found he had a “significantly bigger property portfolio” than initially disclosed, as well as a large number of businesses and bank accounts.
Mr Lewis said: “What happened was that we showed him (Hussain) the evidence and he decided to come to a settlement with us.”
He added: “He has agreed that those assets were acquired through unlawful conduct.”
The NCA pursued the case in the civil courts, rather than the criminal courts, due to the difficulty of tracing Hussain’s “seed funding” for the purchase of his properties, which date back to 2002.
“By using a civil investigation we could show by inference that the income, on the balance of probability, had come from criminality of him laundering for the organised crime groups,” Mr Lewis said.
A settlement between Hussain and the NCA was agreed on August 24, with the High Court sealing the asset recovery order on October 2.
Mr Lewis said: “Clearly, with High Court trials we can’t be certain of the results, and it would save an awful lot of taxpayer’s money if we could settle early, rather than having to continue through a large investigation that was likely to take several years to come to fruition.
He added: “He (Hussain) decided to hand over those assets. He took the view that was the best action for him, rather than go to court and potentially lose all those assets.”
Hussain is now left with four properties, which are “highly mortgaged”, Mr Lewis said.
The settlement does not prevent further criminal action against Hussain “should other offences be discovered and identified”, Mr Lewis added.
UWOs, which came into force at the beginning of 2018, allow investigators to look into the source of wealth of public figures at risk of bribery, or those suspected of links to serious organised crime.
Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, said while the NCA suspected Hussain was a money launderer, it has not been proven.