Money Laundering Currency Trader Stripped of Everything He Owns

One of the quirks of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is that those who launder dirty money can be hit harder in the pocket than the criminal sources of the tainted funds. The Court of Appeal made that point in the case of an experienced foreign currency trader who assisted in sanitising the profits from a £30 million missing trader fraud.

The company for which the trader worked had, over a nine-month period, performed hundreds of transactions which were designed to launder the proceeds of the pan-European fraud, the principle victim of which was the German Revenue. He was subsequently convicted of conspiring to disguise, convert or transfer criminal property and received a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

Following a confiscation hearing, the trader’s benefit from crime was assessed at £17.85 million. A £104,228 confiscation order was issued against him, that sum representing the entirety of his realisable assets, including a property he had purchased with compensation he had received following a road accident.

In challenging that order, his lawyers argued that he played only a minor part in the conspiracy. Apart from his commission on transactions, he had personally made nothing from the money laundering operation.

In dismissing his appeal, however, the Court rejected arguments that he was merely an employee, following his bosses’ instructions. He had sole operational control over money transfers worth millions and, although he was not an authorised signatory to the company’s bank account, he had electronic control of its funds. Given the huge scale of the conspiracy, there was nothing disproportionate about the confiscation order.

The Court noted that the nature of money laundering offences is such that those guilty of committing them, or conspiring to do so, may be found in confiscation proceedings to have derived greater benefits than those involved directly in cheating. That, however, was a consequence of the legislation and not anomalous. If the trader failed to satisfy the order, he would serve an additional 18 months in prison.

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