Assets worth around £75 million controlled by former Conservative peer Michelle Mone and her husband, Doug Barrowman, have been frozen or restrained under a court order obtained by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The National Crime Agency (NCA) is investigating allegations of fraud and bribery surrounding PPE Medpro, a company led by Mr Barrowman, over Government contracts awarded during the pandemic for allegedly faulty personal protective equipment (PPE).
The company is also being sued by the Department of Health and Social Care for “breach of contract and unjust enrichment” after millions of gowns the company supplied were never used.
According to the Financial Times, the court order covers assets including a six-bedroom London townhouse, a country estate on the Isle of Man and 15 bank accounts.
The restrictions also include a ban on the couple selling some of their property and places restrictions on others.
However, while Baroness Mone had previously complained about her assets being frozen, a spokesperson for the couple has now confirmed that they agreed to the restrictions being placed over their assets, saying it comes as “a result of a consensual process”.
The spokesperson went on to say that the couple were happy to offer up the assets because it means “they can begin the task of proving their innocence more quickly.”
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “No doubt the NCA will be pleased that it has been able to freeze assets at an early stage in these proceedings.
“All too often the prolonged nature of litigation means that, by the time a victim establishes an entitlement to compensation, after a long court battle, any assets that might have been available to provide compensation are long gone, having been spent on defence legal fees, passed to third parties or hidden in offshore jurisdictions.
“By freezing assets at the outset, the NCA has ensured that, if its forensic accountancy investigations result in financial orders being made against the Mones, there will be assets available to meet them.”
Sources: BBC News