The City of London Police has seized over £2m of criminal funds following a two year investigation into suspected money laundering.
The application for the funds to be forfeited, and confiscated by the City of London Police, was granted at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday 22 July 2020. It concludes a complex investigation centred around members of an organised crime network based in Italy. The investigation, which started in July 2018, was led by Financial Investigator Andy Morrison of the City of London Police’s Financial Investigation Unit (FIU).
In August 2018, two bank accounts containing more than £2m were frozen following Account Freezing Order (AFO) applications, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The FIU discovered that one of the bank accounts held in the UK was receiving funds from a number of companies in Italy.
Funds from this account were then being sent to a second account in the UK, held in the name of a limited company. The City of London Police’s investigation revealed that this company was not legitimate and had been set up using false addresses, and the two bank accounts were being used as conduits for money laundering.
This process of executing a series of transactions across multiple accounts to disguise and obscure the original source of funds is called “layering”.
With support from colleagues at Europol and the Guardia di Finanza in Italy, the FIU was able to identify the individuals behind this network and link them to previous financial crimes committed abroad.
The total amount forfeited consisted of £1,723,706.56 held in one account and €356,043.00 in the second account.
A/DI Paul Curtis, from the City of London Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said:
“Thanks to the persistent efforts of FI Andy Morrison during this two year investigation, and in collaboration with Italian authorities, the FIU were able to reveal the true intentions of the individuals behind this shell company based in the UK. They set it up with one intention in mind, to launder millions of pounds, obtained through criminality.
“The weight of the evidence against the account holder meant they had no choice but to not contest our forfeiture application. Money laundering is integral to organised crime, and the City of London Police will continue to make every effort to cut access to money laundering routes, which is key to defeating organised crime at source.”