Suspected money launderer with links to 'notorious criminals' hands over £10 million haul

Manni Hussain was forced to hand over more than £10 million worth of properties. Credit: National Crime Agency

A businessman has surrendered almost £10 million worth of properties, cash and land after links to "organised crime groups" were uncovered.

Mansoor Mahmood Hussain handed over the assets in an unexplained wealth order (UWO), the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

The 40-year-old was found to have “strong connections” to “notorious criminals” in the Leeds and Bradford area - including a murderer currently serving 26 years in prison.

Known as Manni Hussain, photographs of the businessman online show him rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, including Meghan Markle, Beyonce and Simon Cowell.

Following an NCA investigation, the Leeds-based businessman has now had to give up the “vast majority” of his assets.

The haul includes properties in London, Leeds and Cheshire, £583,950 in cash and four parcels of land.

The amount seized, including a block of 36 apartments in Leeds, is worth more than £9.8 million.

Andy Lewis, the NCA’s head of civil recovery, 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."

Princes Court in Knightsbridge, the location of Flat M, one of the seized properties Credit: NCA/PA

The NCA looked at what the businessman "had and hadn’t divulged" to help "uncover the hidden skeletons in his financial closet."

Hussain, formerly of Sandmoor Drive in Leeds, came onto the NCA's radar following an investigation into an organised crime group in the area, Mr Lewis said.

Initial impressions suggested he was a "successful businessman" with no previous convictions, but investigators said there was a "compelling case" to show Hussain was an alleged money launderer and had links to those involved in the drugs trade.

The NCA claimed that convicted fraudster Stephen Farman had been working as Hussain's accountant for the past 15 years, and that he allowed convicted armed robber Dennis Slade to stay rent-free at his seven-bedroom house in Sandmoor Drive.

Hussain was also allegedly associated with Mohammed Nisar Khan - who is currently serving 26 years for murder, the NCA claimed.

Cubic Apartments in Leeds, the location of one of the seized properties. Credit: NCA/PA

The agency obtained a UWO from the High Court in July 2019 - requiring Hussain to provide evidence about where the money came from for eight of his properties.

He complied, but subsequent investigations found he had a "significantly bigger property portfolio" than initially disclosed, as well as a large number of businesses and bank accounts.

Mr Lewis said: "What happened was that we showed him (Hussain) the evidence and he decided to come to a settlement with us."

He added: "He has agreed that those assets were acquired through unlawful conduct."

The NCA pursued the case in the civil courts, rather than the criminal courts, due to the difficulty of tracing Hussain’s “seed funding” for the purchase of his properties, which date back to 2002.

A settlement between Hussain and the NCA was agreed on August 24, with the High Court sealing the asset recovery order on October 2.

A property in Knightsbridge, London was seized. Credit: NCA/PA

He added: "He decided to hand over those assets. He took the view that was the best action for him, rather than go to court and potentially lose all those assets."

Hussain is now left with four properties, which are "highly mortgaged", Mr Lewis said.

The settlement does not prevent further criminal action against Hussain "should other offences be discovered and identified", Mr Lewis added.

UWOs, which came into force at the beginning of 2018, 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.

Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, said while the NCA suspected Hussain was a money launderer, it has not been proven.