By David Spereall, Local Democracy Reporting Service
THE former owner of Wakefield Trinity’s rugby ground has lost a £10-million property empire following an investigation by organised crime detectives.
Mansoor ‘Manni’ Hussain had links to “serious criminals”, including a murderer serving a 26 year prison sentence, and used “threats of violence and blackmail” to help build his empire, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Wednesday (7).
Leeds-based Hussain has given up 45 properties he owned across the city, Cheshire and London following a settlement sealed at the High Court last week.
Hussain owned Wakefield Trinity’s Belle Vue ground before selling it to the Super League tenants last year.
The authorities say Hussain failed to fully co-operate with an unexplained wealth order (UWO) issued earlier this year, which required him to reveal how he’d made his money.
The NCA said they’d uncovered links to criminal associates, including Bradford-based Mohammed Nisar ‘Meggy’ Khan, who was jailed for 26 years last year after fatally driving a car into a father-of-three.
It was also revealed that Hussain allowed a convicted armed robber to stay rent free at his seven-bed penthouse apartment in Leeds city centre and allowed a convicted fraudster to manage his accounts for 15 years.
In a statement, the NCA’s head of civil recovery, Andy Lewis 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.
“Ultimately the wealth of evidence in this case has led to a settlement which not only meets our operational goals, but frees up our investigators and legal team to pursue other cases.”
Hussain sold Belle Vue to Wakefield Trinity for £3m in May 2019.
The purchase was made with the help of a loan from Wakefield Council, though documents later revealed the ground was worth just over half that amount.
The NCA began an investigation into that deal earlier this year. It’s understood further updates on that probe will emerge in due course.
Among the properties Hussain agreed to surrender were his home address on Sandmoor Drive in Leeds, as well as places in Rawdon, Armley, Hunslet and Knaresborough.
Graeme Biggar, NCA director general of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: “This case is a milestone, demonstrating the power of Unexplained Wealth Orders, with significant implications for how we pursue illicit finance in the UK.
“This ground-breaking investigation has recovered of millions of pounds worth of criminally obtained property. It is crucial for the economic health of local communities such as Leeds, and for the country as a whole, that we ensure property and other assets are held legitimately.”