Money launderers jailed for more than 26 years

Six members of an organised crime gang have been jailed for more than 26 years in total for sending £26 million of ‘dirty money’ to Dubai as part of a large-scale money laundering scheme.

The court heard that the gang members posed as directors of seven separate companies set up purely to launder the cash. 

They then deposited illegal cash at banks a dozen times daily between July 2015 and June 2016 – amounting to a staggering 2,376 deposits across 193 days.

According to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigators, the gang leader, Mohammed Zafer, would travel hundreds of miles from his base in Buckinghamshire to collect and deposit criminal cash at 100 banks. 

The investigators also uncovered a false paperwork trail used to legitimise the criminal activity, which was created to avoid paying alcohol duty. 

Once the money was inside the UK banking system, it was transferred quickly out of the jurisdiction and into banks in Dubai, where Zafer had business interests.

As the ringleader, Zafer was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while the other members of the gang received sentences of between four years and nine months and 18 months suspended.

A spokesman for HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service said that the sentences reflected the industrial scale of the criminal operation. 

He added that money laundering is not a victimless crime, as it robs public services of much-needed money and funds other organised criminality that harms our communities. 

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “This case demonstrates the challenges faced by those who receive cash for their illicit activities.

“As we head towards a cashless society, large cash transactions become easier to spot because they are ever more unusual.

There are good reasons for retaining cash as a means of payment, especially for those who distrust financial organisations.  However, as more and more transactions are conducted electronically, we may soon find ourselves in a world in which the majority of cash transactions are undertaken by those who have questionable motives for not wanting to leave an audit trail.

As any forensic accountant will testify, cash is still the hardest thing to trace.” 

Sources: HMRC

Posted in The Forensic Blog.