Wednesday 31 July 2019 3:52 pm

National Crime Agency secures fourth unexplained wealth order against Northern Irish woman with suspected paramilitary links

The National Crime Agency (NCA) today said it had secured the fourth unexplained wealth order (UWO) against a Northern Irish woman with suspected paramilitary and organised crime links.

The NCA said it suspected the woman is associated with criminals involved in paramilitary activity and cigarette smuggling.

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The order was served yesterday afternoon and is part of an NCA investigation into six properties valued at £3.2m owned by the woman who lives in London.

Four of the properties are in London and two in Northern Ireland.

Interim freezing orders have been granted which means the properties cannot be sold or transferred while the investigation continues.

Introduced last year, UWOs reverse the burden of proof, forcing those suspected of gaining assets illegally to prove they were obtained within the confines of the law.

Andy Lewis, head of asset denial at the NCA, said: “This is the fourth case in which we have obtained a UWO. Our investigations are complex and involve careful consideration before we make an application before the court”.

Read more: Azerbaijani woman who spent £16m in Harrods arrested

“We do not investigate illicit finance based on monetary value alone. This latest order shows that we will act against those who we believe are causing the most harm to our communities”.

The UK’s first UWO was granted last year for Zamira Hajiyeva – the wife of Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev who was thrown in jail for defrauding the state-owned bank he worked for.

Zamira Hajiyeva spent £16m in Harrods over a decade.