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UK fraud office seizes jewels, Rolex watches linked to fugitive

LONDON (Reuters) - A wanted fugitive whose brother was convicted of a role in a 50 million pound ($64 million) British mortgage scam has had opulent necklaces, gold, silver and diamond-encrusted Rolex watches seized from a safe deposit box.

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Wednesday it had confiscated 500,000 pounds ($638,500) worth of jewellery, including a gold ring emblazoned with the name “Nisar”, from the safe deposit box of the former partner of Nisar Afzal.

The SFO said it used a listed asset order, a new tool in its

armoury, to seize and forfeit listed assets linked to Afzal, which it believes to be the proceeds of crime.

His former partner had consented to the order, the SFO said.

“This case reinforces our determination to use every tool available to us to prevent those who would bribe, cheat and steal from resting easily on their illicit gains,” said Liz Baker, head of the SFO’s proceeds of crime and international assistance division.

The latest move on Afzal’s assets comes after the SFO last year seized 1.52 million pounds from the sale of two properties in Birmingham, central England, bought by Afzal.

A warrant remains out for his arrest after he fled Britain for Pakistan in the mid-2000s. The SFO alleges he was implicated in a fraud against mortgage lenders, for which his brother, Saghir Afzal, was convicted and jailed in 2011 for 13 years.

Saghir Afzal was sentenced to an additional 10 years for failing to pay a near 30-million-pound confiscation order within six months.

(This story has been refiled to correct name to ‘Baker’ from ‘Baler’ in paragraph 5).

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Mark Heinrich