LONDON (Reuters) – British police have frozen eight bank accounts containing a total of more than 100 million pounds ($121 million), which is suspected to have derived from bribery and corruption overseas.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Wednesday a London court had approved the Account Freezing Orders (AFOs), the largest granted to date, and that police would recover the funds if investigators proved it had been intended for unlawful use.
The NCA said it could not provide any details that could identify individuals related to the accounts.
AFOs and Unexplained Wealth Orders, that allow police to freeze assets until property owners account for their wealth, are part of a toolbox introduced last year to help stem a tide of suspected corrupt cash washing through the country.
London has long attracted corrupt foreign money, especially from Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan, former Soviet states and Asia, and the NCA estimates that around 100 billion pounds of dirty money is moved through or into Britain each year.
“The NCA is … seeking to … convince the NCA’s foreign counterparts that even if they cannot prosecute untouchable oligarchs at home, if they have assets here, these can be attacked,” said David Corker, a partner at law firm Corker Binning.
Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Stephen Powell