Mansoor Hussain rubbed his shoulders with the rich and famous and proudly posed with celebrities like Meghan Markle, Beyonce and Simon Cowell.
But the millionaire businessman who liked to boast about his A-list connections on social media wasn't all he seemed.
Investigators believe the 40-year-old Poundworld owner laundered huge sums for criminal networks linked to a convicted murderer, drug trafficking, and arms trade.
Mansoor Hussain, who boasted his A-list connections including Meghan Markle in 2013 (pictured), laundered huge sums of money for criminal networks, according to investigators
Hussain was the director of a set production company that ran shows for Beyonce (pictured), Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls and Take That
Now the National Crime Agency has confiscated nearly £ 10 million from the developer.
The first successful use of a McMafia contract – named after the BBC TV drama series starring James Norton – Hussain had to hand over 45 properties, including million-pound mansions and blocks of flats in London, Cheshire and Leeds.
As part of the settlement, the NCA left him four small properties that are still mortgaged and transferred cash to a bank account that was not part of the original investigation.
The NCA used an unexplained property regime (UWO) to take action against the alleged criminal who had displayed his money for years.
Hussain's Twitter and Instagram pages are filled with pictures of him posing with stars, politicians, and kings in places like Barbados, New York, Monaco, and Saint-Tropez.
A photo he has repeatedly posted on social media shows him hugging Meghan Markle at the 2013 Global Gift Gala in London, three years before she met Prince Harry.
Among 45 properties Hussain had to return was this gated family home in Leeds
The largest real estate seizure was a block of 36 apartments and offices called Cubic on the outskirts of Leeds, valued at more than £ 9.8 million and owned by Mr Hussain
This house in Knightsbridge belongs to Hussain's property empire seized by the NCA
A fleet of luxury cars, including a Rolls Royce with personalized license plates belonging to Hussain
After the royal wedding, Hussain republished the picture to his 134,000 Instagram followers, titled: "Great Night with the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle."
As the director of a set production company that ran shows for Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls and Take That, Hussain – who calls himself Manni Boss – never missed an opportunity to take pictures.
He was pictured with Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green, Cherie Blair, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and entrepreneur Michelle Mone.
On the website of one of his real estate companies, 88 million, he claims to be "very proud" to work with the Petra Ecclestone Foundation, run by the daughter of Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone.
There is no evidence that any of the celebrities he met were involved in any wrongdoing.
Hussain has ties to Mohammed Nisar Khan, a murderer who is serving a 26-year prison sentence
Hussain, who started his first business at age 18, takes pride in traveling by private jet and owning a fleet of luxury vehicles, including Rolls Royces and Range Rovers.
But the NCA believes his jet set lifestyle was funded through money laundering for notorious gangs.
According to investigators, Hussain has ties to Mohammed Nisar Khan, a convicted murderer who is serving a 26-year prison sentence. He also used a convicted fraudster as his accountant and allegedly allowed an armed robber to stay in his mansion and seven-bedroom penthouse, the NCA says.
It is believed that he bought his real estate with threats of violence and extortion. Investigators didn't realize the size of his fortune until he submitted 127 lever arch files and a 76-page statement explaining where his money came from and inadvertently gave officers clues to make a larger argument against him.
UWOs were introduced in 2018 to give authorities the power to investigate the source of the wealth of suspected criminals and politically exposed persons. The one against Hussain last year was the first to be based solely on alleged links to organized crime.
The NCA pursued the case in the civil courts, rather than the criminal courts, as it was difficult to assemble financial evidence that would secure a conviction.
Andy Lewis, director of civil recovery at the NCA, said while Hussain initially appeared to be a successful businessman without conviction, there was a "compelling case" that he was a suspected money launderer and had connections with those involved in the drug trade were involved.
It is believed that Hussain (pictured) bought his property with threats of violence and extortion
"We showed him the evidence and he decided to come to an agreement with us," said Lewis. "He felt it was the best thing he could do instead of going to court and potentially losing all of those assets."
The largest single property handed over to the NCA is a high specification residential and office property, Cubic, on the outskirts of Leeds that Mr. Hussain owned 100% through one of his many companies.
Other properties include a house on one of the city's most expensive streets, an apartment across from Harrods in London and townhouses in Leeds and Bradford.
In High Court legal documents, the NCA said the seed capital for Cubic development and other property purchases must have come from Mr. Hussain's criminal employees because they could not find a legitimate source of his assets. He had paid virtually no income tax in a few years, and many of his 77 businesses were dormant.
Hussain met former Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand (left) and lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone (right) at various parties and social events
Hussain's Twitter and Instagram pages are filled with pictures of him posing with stars, including Simon Cowell (pictured)
The court was told that Mr. Hussain was seen as "clean skin" – an unconvinced businessman who appears to be a professional money launderer.
An agreement was reached between Hussain and the NCA on August 24, with the High Court sealing the asset recovery order on October 2.
Graeme Biggar, director of white-collar crime at the NCA, said: “This case is a landmark case that demonstrates the power of inexplicable asset orders and has a significant impact on the way we do illicit finance in the UK.
& # 39; This groundbreaking investigation has reclaimed tens of millions of pounds of criminally acquired property.
"It is critical to the economic health of local communities like Leeds and the country as a whole that we ensure that property and other assets are lawfully held."
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