(London) A convicted drug dealer today lost US$500,000 of ‘hidden’ assets as a result of a landmark judgement in Luxembourg won by the National Crime Agency (NCA). This will bring the total amount seized by the NCA from Amir Azam to more than £3.3 million.
The ruling – handed down today by the District Court of Luxembourg – states that the proceeds of crime hidden by Mr Azam in Luxembourg can be seized on a civil basis by the NCA in the UK.
Importantly, this is the first time that a foreign state has recognised and enforced a UK Civil Recovery Order. The decision represents a significant step forward in the fight to recover the millions of pounds worth of assets that UK criminals have traditionally hidden abroad to evade law enforcement’s reach.
Mr Azam is a British national who is currently serving a four year prison sentence after being convicted of drug offences last year. In September 2014 the NCA was granted a Civil Recovery Order in respect of five properties and money from five bank accounts in the UK and Luxembourg. In October 2014 the High Court ruled that two further properties could be recovered.
The UK assets have already been seized and the ruling by the Luxembourg court means that Azam has now also lost the assets hidden in Luxembourg.
Stephanie Jeavons, Deputy Director of the NCA’s Economic Crime Command outlined the importance of today’s ruling:
“This decision is a significant step forward for the NCA, and for all UK law enforcement, in the fight to recover the millions of pounds worth of criminal assets hidden abroad.
“The NCA is working with a number of countries to retrieve the criminal proceeds squirreled away overseas and this ground-breaking judgment paves the way for other countries to follow suit.”