UNEXPLAINED WEALTH: Tycoon snapped with Meghan Markle gives £10m to NCA over link to organised crime
A PROPERTY tycoon, who has been pictured with A-List celebrities including Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, (above), Beyonce and Simon Cowell, has been forced to surrender assets worth nearly £10 million after a civil investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) exposed his links to serious organised criminals.
The NCA used an unexplained wealth order (UWO) against properties owned by Mansoor ‘Manni’ Mahmood
PALS: Sir Philip Green with Manni Hussain and Simon Cowell (Instagram)
Hussain, 40, formerly of Sandmoor Drive, in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Introduced under the Criminal Finance Act 2017, UWOs can be served on people who are expected of having criminal proceeds and they force the recipient to explain the source of their assets unless they contest it in court.
A-LIST: Manni with Beyonce (top), Nicole Scherzinger (middle) and Simon Cowell (bottom) (Facebook)
Hussain, who calls himself "Manni Boss" on social media has been pictured rubbing shoulders with a string of celebrities, including the Duchess in 2013, Beyonce, Simon Cowell, Sir Philip Green, Nicole Scherzinger and Cheryl Cole.
There is no suggestion any of the celebrities are involved in any wrongdoing.
OUTSTANDING: Hussain collects his gong in 2017 (YABA)
In October 2017 the Yorkshire Asian Business Association gave Hussain the Outstanding Contribution to Yorkshire Award. But, The NCA knew Hussain was also linked to serious criminals, including Bradford's most notorious criminal
MURDERER: Meggy Khan
Mohammed Nisar 'Meggy' Khan, who is currently serving 26 years for murder after being convicted in December, however the agency only suspected him of money laundering.
An NCA spokesman said: "In 2016 Hussain paid a £134,000 confiscation order for Khan’s brother Shamsher, who had been convicted of fraud and money laundering.
"He also allowed convicted armed robber Dennis Slade to stay rent free in his seven bedroom house in Sandmoor Drive.
"Following Slade’s release from prison, he stayed rent free in a penthouse apartment owned by Hussain in Leeds city centre.
ROBBER: Dennis Slade
"For the last 15 years, convicted fraudster Stephen Farman has managed Hussain’s accounts."
The NCA suspected the "seed criminal funding" Hussain received for his property empire was obtained in 2002 and it would be difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt in front of a jury at a criminal trial that it was the proceeds of crime.
So, it instead used the lower civil court threshold to strip him of his assets.
The UWO against Hussain's assets was the first one ever obtained solely on an individual’s alleged involvement in serious organised crime.
Hussain submitted 127 lever arch folders and a 76-page statement to explain where his money came from for the properties – but the NCA said this inadvertently gave its investigators clues to make a bigger case against him.
MANNI BOSS: Hussain is counting the cost of his association to organised criminals (Facebook)
An NCA spokesman said: "A freezing order was obtained stopping the sale or transfer of the original eight properties, plus a further nine that were identified."
The NCA argued that Hussain had failed to fully comply with the requirements of the UWO, and his non-compliance provided a good case that a number of the properties were funded by criminal associates.
Hussain, who has links to a murderer jailed for 26 years, an armed robber and a convicted fraudster who acted as his accountant, used threats of violence and blackmail to buy his properties, the NCA claimed.
As part of the first recovery in a UWO case, Hussain agreed to hand over 45 properties in London, Cheshire and Leeds, four parcels of land, as well as other assets and £583,950 in cash, with a combined value of £9,802,828.
PROPRTIES: Hussain's former home (top) and a flats block in Leeds he also gave up (above) (NCA)
The settlement was agreed on 24th August, and the High Court sealed the recovery order on 2 October 2020.
Graeme Biggar, NCA Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: “This case is a milestone, demonstrating the power of UWOs, with significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the UK.
“This ground breaking investigation has recovered of millions of pounds worth of criminally obtained property. It is crucial for the economic health of local communities such as Leeds, and for the country as a whole, that we ensure property and other assets are held legitimately.
“I am determined to bring together all the resources of the public and private sector to protect the UK economy from the corrosive impact of illicit finance.”
PLUSH: One of the luxury properties in Knightsbridge surrendered by Hussain (NCA)
Andy Lewis, Head of Civil Recovery at the NCA, said: “Mansoor Hussain thought he had hidden the criminality associated with the source of his property empire, but he didn’t count on our tenacity.
“Far from taking his UWO response at face value, we studied what he had and hadn’t divulged. We could then use that information to look far enough back to uncover the hidden skeletons in his financial closet.
“Ultimately the wealth of evidence in this case has led to a settlement which not only meets our operational goals, but frees up our investigators and legal team to pursue other cases.”
The properties surrendered included 36 high-spec apartments in Leeds, his former home in Sandmoor Drive, Leeds, two properties in Knightsbridge, London, plus others in Bradford an Cheshire and £583,950 in cash.