Court of Appeal Ruling Reveals Vast Scale of Money Laundering Conspiracy


A Court of Appeal ruling has provided an insight into the vast scale of excise frauds and money laundering operations conducted by organised crime gangs. The case exposed a criminal network through which an estimated £60 million in dirty cash passed during a period of less than four years.

After a member of a crime gang was convicted of conspiring to launder money and other offences, he was jailed for 13 years and four months. He was also disqualified from serving as a company director for 12 years and received a confiscation order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, totalling almost £700,000.

Ruling on his challenge to the confiscation order, the Court noted that, as joint head of the gang, he was a prime mover in the plot to launder profits generated by a lucrative fraud, which involved the sale of smuggled alcohol and cigarettes to cash and carry stores and other outlets without payment of excise duty. Huge sums in cash were moved through front companies and distributed around the country via a network of couriers.

The seizure by British Transport Police of more than £160,000 in cash at two major railway stations illustrated the scale of the enterprise. Data stored on a memory stick recorded over £30 million flowing through the network. The trial judge estimated that double that sum had passed through the conspirators’ hands during the period of about 40 months covered by the indictment.

The offender was proved to have personally received more than £180,000, although the prosecution believed that was just the tip of the iceberg. Although his identified assets were worth not much more than £90,000, made up of cash, watches and other possessions, the confiscation order was based on the estimated value of his hidden assets.

The Court reduced the confiscation order by about £42,000 on the basis that the amount of four cheques that had been made out to HM Revenue and Customs should have been deducted from the calculation of his available assets. His appeal was otherwise dismissed.

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