Mystery Banker's Wife Fights U.K. Order on Unexplained Property

(Bloomberg) -- The wife of an unidentified banker is fighting the U.K. prosecutor’s attempt to seize millions of pounds of allegedly improperly acquired property, asking a London judge to block one of the first-ever “unexplained wealth orders.”

Unexplained wealth orders, which came into effect in January, could overhaul how prosecutors chase assets that are thought to have been gained through crime. The onus is on the owner to show that any asset worth more than 50,000 pounds ($66,000) was funded by legitimate means, instead of a requirement for police to prove it was obtained illegally.

Lawyers representing the woman, identified only as Mrs. A, at a hearing Tuesday said that the National Crime Agency had used flawed evidence to obtain the order. Mr. A, a banker from a non-European Economic Area country, was convicted of fraud, her attorney, James Lewis, said in court.

There’s no evidence that the "wealth came from anyone else other than Mr. A," although "there is evidence that Mrs. A had an extravagant lifestyle through her credit-card spending,” Lewis said.

Lawyers for Mrs. A had asked for the bulk of the hearing to be held in private. Judge Michael Supperstone rejected the application but maintained his order that blocked anything that would help identify the family.

"The starting point is the fundamental principle of open justice," Supperstone said Tuesday. "There is a clear public interest in the public understanding of the legal basis under which these orders are made."

NCA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The anonymity order prevents the identification of any of the individuals involved, a bank, two properties, and their home country, Supperstone said.

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