£16m Harrods customer loses bid to keep her £22m homes

Mrs A yesterday lost her appeal against the two orders after Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed her application to discharge the UWOs.Mr Justice Supperstone noted that “independent of the conviction there is evidence which provides some corroboration for the allegations made against him [Mrs A’s husband] relating to the misuse of the bank’s funds of which he was found guilty”.He stated that “three separate loyalty cards were issued to Mrs A by department store Harrods, where she spent more than £16 million between September 2006 and June 2016, which the court heard was “far in excess” of her husband’s income.Each week the woman spent tens of thousands of pounds on luxury goods, while her child has a share fund worth £15m.James Lewis QC, for Mrs A, said that her husband was a “fat cat international banker” whose wealth covered his wife’s expenditure.Sitting at the High Court Mr Justice Supperstone also discharged an anonymity order preventing the identification of the couple, the non-EEA country, the bank, the two properties and Mr A’s lawyers in the non-EEA country.Mr Justice Supperstone said he was “not satisfied” that the anonymity order was necessary in order to protect their interests. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. He concluded that “identification of Mrs A and her husband, the non-EEA country involved and the state-owned enterprise that employed him are all matters of very real public interest”.However, he directed that the anonymity order stay in place until noon on October 10, pending the outcome of an application for permission to appeal over both the ruling on the UWO and on the anonymity order.Indicating that Mrs A would seek to take the case to the Court of Appeal Mr Lewis said the case raised “clearly important issues”.Donald Toon, NCA director for economic crime, said: “I am very pleased that the court dismissed the respondent’s (Mrs A’s) arguments. This demonstrates that the NCA is absolutely right to ask probing questions about the funds used to purchase prime property.”We are determined to use the powers available to us to their fullest extent where we have concerns that we cannot determine legitimate sources of wealth.”Legal commentators say that if the UWO against Mrs A stands, it is likely to pave the way for more orders against suspects, including Russian oligarchs with property in Britain. The wife of an international banker who spent £16 million at Harrods has lost her bid to keep hold of two opulent properties worth £22m.The woman, who had three separate loyalty cards for the Knightsbridge store, was the subject of the first two orders issued under so called McMafia laws.Two Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) were obtained by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in February in relation to the two properties; a £11.5m home purchased in 2009 by a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and a London home bought the same year for a similar sum.Mrs A’s husband was the chairman of a bank in a non-European Economic Area (EEA) country, in which the state had a controlling stake. Following his resignation in 2015 he was convicted of fraud and embezzlement, sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment and ordered to pay the bank approximately 39 million US dollars.As a result the NCA obtained two UWOs against his assets on the grounds the funds used to purchase the properties were bought with cash stolen while he was working for a state bank in their home country.The NCA has the power to seize assets if officials believe the owner is a politically exposed person (PEP) – someone from outside the EEA in a position of power that makes them liable to bribery or corruption – or someone with suspected links to serious or organised crime, and they are unable explain the source of their wealth.


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