A convicted drug dealer has lost US$500,000 of ‘hidden’ assets as the result of a landmark judgement in Luxembourg won by the National Crime Agency (NCA). This decision will bring the total amount seized by the NCA from Mr Amir Azam to more than £3.3 million.
The ruling – recently handed down by the District Court of Luxembourg – states that the proceeds of crime hidden by Mr Azam in Luxembourg may be seized on a civil basis by the NCA here 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 hugely significant step forward in the fight to recover the millions of pounds’ worth of assets that UK criminals have traditionally hidden abroad in their attempts to evade the reach of law enforcement.
Azam is a British national who’s currently serving a four-year prison sentence having been 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 last year, the High Court then ruled that two further properties could be recovered.
The UK assets have already been seized, while the ruling by the District Court of Luxembourg means that Azam has now also lost those assets hidden in Luxembourg.
Stephanie Jeavons, deputy director of the NCA’s Economic Crime Command, outlined the ruling’s importance by stating: “This decision is a significant step forward for us, and indeed for all UK law enforcement, in the fight to recover criminal assets hidden abroad. The National Crime Agency is working with a number of countries to retrieve the criminal proceeds squirreled away overseas, and there’s no doubt that this ground-breaking judgement paves the way for other countries to follow suit.”