Legal tables are turned as Israeli tycoon sues crime agency

Exclusive

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is being sued for £220m in damages by the Israeli tycoon Israel Perry, who claims that his UK and his worldwide assets were illegally frozen.

Last month the NCA abandoned its claim against Mr Perry and has paid his legal costs of £3.3m, which are likely to reach £7m. Now the agency has been accused of acting “unlawfully” in freezing assets that prevented Mr Perry from pursuing investment opportunities, notably a £550m scheme to develop Camden Lock, according to a High Court writ.

The NCA’s predecessor, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), obtained a High Court Order to freeze his UK and worldwide assets, which included £10m houses in South Street, Mayfair, £5.2m worth of art, and £6.5m in London bank accounts. These assets were frozen because Soca alleged they were derived from over-charging from a pension scheme for life insurance, for which Mr Perry was convicted in Israel.

But when Mr Perry appealed against the freezing order, the Supreme Court in this country ruled that it was illegal for Soca to seize his possessions outside the UK. Lord Phillips concluded: “The High Court has no jurisdiction to make a recovery order in relation to property outside England and Wales. It follows that the court had no jurisdiction to make the worldwide property freezing order that was made in this case”

Soca responded by persuading Parliament to grant it new powers in the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which enables it to pursue assets outside the UK. This was designed to reverse the impact of this Supreme Court ruling. Lawyers argue that these powers, first revealed by The Independent, are significant because oligarchs and wealthy individuals who own assets in the UK could have their worldwide assets frozen by the UK authorities.

The Soca investigation into Mr Perry also received a setback in 2011 when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the amounts charged to the pensioners for life insurance was not stolen money.

In response, Soca filed a new lawsuit against Mr Perry. But last month this claim was abandoned, one day before the agency was due to provide details of what it believed to be the amount that was overcharged by Mr Perry and to trace that money to particular assets.  “The NCA needs to address the issue of why it pursued the case after the judgment in Israel was overturned”,  Trevor Asserson, the lawyer for Mr Perry, told The Independent.

Now Mr Perry is suing the NCA for “loss and damage” of income and investment opportunities. He claims he was forced to withdraw from deals because all his money was tied up by the freezing order.  But a spokesperson for the agency said: “The NCA is vigorously defending this speculative application. The process is subject to ongoing litigation and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further”.

Mr Perry is also actively pursuing the identity of the unnamed Israeli lawyer who advised the NCA and provided expert reports during Mr Perry’s case in support of the freezing order. Unusually, the NCA has always kept the name of the Israeli lawyer secret but his identity is likely to emerge if this case proceeds to trial.

The collapse of the Mr Perry case – a humiliation for the NCA – has thrown the new powers to freeze worldwide assets into disarray and has major implications for the way in which the agency operates. It also has important consequences for other oligarchs with UK assets: if the NCA were to seek to freeze their worldwide assets, then the freezing order could well be overturned on appeal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'