A businessman linked to “notorious” criminals has handed over almost £10m in assets in a landmark “McMafia” case.
Mansoor Mahmood Hussain surrendered £9,802,828 in property, land, cash and other assets in a legal first at the conclusion of an unexplained wealth order probe.
The 40-year-old was pursued by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after he cropped up on their radar during an investigation into organised crime in Leeds.
He initially appeared to be a “successful businessman” with no previous convictions, who shared images of his luxury lifestyle on social media, including photos of himself posing with Meghan Markle, Beyonce, Sir Philip Green and Simon Cowell.
But investigators soon began to suspect he could be a money launderer with links to people in the drugs trade.
The NCA claimed Mr Hussain, who also goes by the nickname “Manni”, was associated with convicted murderer Mohammed Nisar Khan, who is currently serving 26 years in jail.
He also allegedly allowed convicted armed robber Dennis Slade to stay rent free in his seven-bedroom house in Sandmoor Drive, Leeds, as well as his city centre penthouse apartment following his release from prison.
Convicted fraudster Stephen Farman has also managed Mr Hussain’s accounts for the last 15 years, according to investigators.
The NCA decided to pursue Mr Hussain in the civil courts, rather than the criminal courts, due to the difficulty of tracing his "seed funding" for the purchase of his properties, which date back to 2002.
While the agency suspects Mr Hussain of money laundering, this has not been proven.
Investigators instead obtained an unexplained wealth order from the High Court in July 2019, requiring Mr Hussain to provide evidence about where the money came from for eight of his properties.
He submitted 127 lever arch folders and a 76-page statement as evidence – but inadvertently gave NCA investigators clues to make a bigger case against him.
A settlement between Mr Hussain and the NCA was agreed, and he gave up the "vast majority" of his assets, including properties in London, Leeds and Cheshire, £583,950 in cash and four parcels of land.
The businessman is now left with four properties, which are said to be "highly mortgaged", and the settlement does not prevent further criminal action against him if “other offences” are discovered, according to Andy Lewis, the NCA’s head of civil recovery.
He 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.
"We showed him the evidence and he decided to come to a settlement with us. He has agreed those assets were acquired through unlawful conduct."
Mr Lewis added: "Clearly, with High Court trials we can't be certain of the results, and it would save an awful lot of taxpayers’ money if we could settle early, rather than having to continue through a large investigation that was likely to take several years to come to fruition.”
UWOs allow investigators to look into the source of wealth of public figures at risk of bribery, or those suspected of links to serious organised crime.
The new power came into force in January 2018 under so-called McMafia laws, named after the BBC organised crime drama and the book which inspired it.
There is no suggestion any of the celebrities he was pictured with had knowledge of his alleged associations.
Additional reporting by PA