Monday, October 26, 2020

Boutique hotel and London properties seized by National Crime Agency in major money laundering operation

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) has seized millions of pounds worth of assets from a British woman, following an eight-year investigation into her husband.

Lottery winner Amanda Nuttall and two associates have lost an award-winning luxury hotel and a £100,000 Bentley among other investments.

Investigators examining her husband Jonathan Nuttall’s affairs said they discovered an international money laundering network in which hundreds of millions of pounds were moved through accounts in the UK, Hong Kong, Russia and Switzerland.

Mr Nuttall’s ”considerable wealth” was gained unlawfully and held in his wife’s name, the NCA said. The couple, from Hampshire, rented a £2,000-a-week flat in London’s Belgravia, built a swimming pool at their countryside home, hired a private jet to visit Cannes and Dubai, and shopped in Harrods.

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Mr Nuttall, 46, arranged his affairs so the assets were in his wife’s name and others’, the NCA said. Investigators examined around 100,000 financial transactions involving “a series of companies” during the probe.

“Jonathan Nuttall amassed considerable wealth as a result of his and others’ unlawful conduct,” said Andy Lewis, the NCA’s head of asset denial.

“He is not himself a party to the claim. That is because he structured his business affairs so that he didn’t hold any of the recoverable property himself.”

The NCA believes that some funds embezzled from the Russian government and proceeds of frauds committed in the UK also passed through the network of companies in the UK, Russia, Austria, US, Croatia and the Seychelles.

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Ms Nuttall, 45, won more than £2.5m in the National Lottery in 2008, but she could not tell NCA investigators how the money was spent.

The NCA has seized 11 properties, including the White Horse Hotel in Hampshire, from Ms Nuttall and two other defendants.

Property developer Eric Grove, 89, of Lapworth in Warwickshire, and barrister Timothy Becker, 55, from London, also surrendered some assets.

The trio agreed to hand over the investments to avoid a 15-day trial, the NCA said.

“Recovering assets that have been illegally obtained is a priority for the NCA and we are pleased that our commitment to this investigation into Mr Nuttall and his associates has paid off in agreeing this settlement,” said Mr Lewis.

“The defendants were of high standing within their communities with interest in local properties and businesses. Crime most certainly has not paid in this case.”

Investigators first came across Mr Nuttall during a separate civil recovery probe involving a drug smuggler named Amir Azam, in which £4m of property was seized.

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