October 2, 2023


Law for politics

Unexplained wealth orders and what to do if you receive one

There are many kinds of fraud in the world of business and corporations. 

As well as this, there is often a lot of movement relating to legitimate sources of income in the world of business and corporations, meaning that there is quite a bit of overlap between getting new clients and getting served with an unexplained wealth order. 

Of course, if you have never heard of an unexplained wealth order before, then it may seem to be this terrifying document that means you have broken the law; that’s not the case at all! And in this document, you will be guided through what you need to do if you receive an unexplained wealth order. 

What is an unexplained wealth order?

Unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) are a legal mechanism introduced in some jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, to combat money laundering and target assets suspected of being acquired through illicit means. A UWO is a court order that requires an individual to explain the origin of their wealth and demonstrate that it comes from legitimate sources.

The primary objective of UWOs is to target individuals who are unable to provide a reasonable explanation for their wealth, considering their known income and assets. The orders are typically used in cases where there is a suspicion that the person’s wealth is the result of criminal activity, such as corruption, fraud, or money laundering.

When a UWO is issued, you need to provide a detailed account of how you obtained your assets and wealth, and the best way to do this within the guidelines is to contact a fraud solicitor. You must disclose supporting documentation and evidence to prove that your wealth was lawfully acquired, so you need to make sure that if you have recently received money from a new client or from another source, you have supporting documentation. Failure to comply with a UWO can lead to the seizure and forfeiture of the assets in question, so always make sure to comply!

Documents you will need to submit for a UWO

This will vary based on the type of assets that you have acquired. Of course, in most cases, there will be similar documents that you need to submit for a UWO. 

Documentation related to the assets

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If you receive a UWO, one of the key pieces of documentation that you will need to hand over to the authorities will include documents related to the assets that you now have.

This can include purchase agreements, property deeds, bank statements, loan agreements, mortgage documents, and records of any other financial transactions related to the acquisition or ownership of the assets.

If you are receiving a UWO for your business, you need to ensure that any documentation that you send relates to any new clients that can account for it, such as contracts, bank details, and contact information.

Evidence of legitimate income and sources of wealth

In much the same vein, if you are a sole trader and you have acquired newer sources of income via work, you will need to showcase this during the early stages of the UWO investigation.

This may involve providing employment contracts, business records, tax returns, bank statements, investment portfolios, and even receipts and invoices that have been sent to your client.

Documentation related to offshore companies or trusts

Many people assume that holding money offshore is illegal, but this isn’t true.

If you have assets that are held in offshore entities, you may be required to provide details and documentation related to these entities, including the company incorporation documents, trust agreements, shareholder registers, and financial statements. Again, in cases like this (where fraud is pretty common), it is often best to ensure that you have legal help to hand.

Information about the individual’s business interests and connections

If you have received a bit of new money through merging with another business, then you will need to make sure that you keep any paperwork that pertains to that, as if you are served a UWO, you will need to use it.

This may involve disclosing the individual’s involvement in any companies, partnerships, or other business entities, including directorship roles, shareholdings, and records of financial transactions related to these businesses.