Forensic investigation recovers £4 million of smuggled gold

Gold worth around £4 million has been reclaimed after being discovered in a private jet at Heathrow Airport in 2019.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) seized 104kg of gold, some in bars, others in the shape of hearts cylinders, in June 2019 after the plane stopped at Heathrow en route to Switzerland from the Cayman Islands.

Working with the authorities in the Cayman Islands, NCA investigators tracked the cargo by establishing that a trail of false paperwork had been created by South American drug cartels to hide that the gold had originated in Venezuela and that those involved in the organisation and physical movement of the gold had links to organised crime.

The gold is now at the centre of a money laundering investigation being run by the Cayman Island authorities with the help of the NCA.

The haul was held at Heathrow under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the NCA told a London Court that it had obtained a civil recovery order, allowing investigators to take possession of more than 80 per cent of it.

The remaining amount will be returned to companies with a financial interest in the gold.

As a spokesman for the NCA explained, criminals are attracted to gold as a way of moving drugs money.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Gold, like hard currency, has always been a favoured by criminals as a means of transferring wealth because it is very valuable but leaves no physical or digital trace.

“This case is one of many recent examples of the NCA working in collaboration with law enforcement agencies overseas. The multi-billion-dollar organisations that make money from organised crime operate across multiple jurisdictions, which means that not even the largest national police forces have much chance of combatting them without being able to work closely with their counterparts in other countries.

As forensic accountants, we too are finding ourselves working increasingly often with colleagues in other parts of the world through our international networks and alliances.”

Source: National Crime Agency

Posted in The Forensic Blog.