A man from Leeds has been jailed over his part in an elaborate scheme to launder millions of pounds of “dirty cash”.
Richard Strauss, of Avenue Court, Alwoodley, and accomplice Bhader Singh were involved in trying to clean up £20 million of criminals’ cash believed to have been made from illicit alcohol sales.
Singh, 35, of Kettering, set up a fake wholesale company and produced false invoices to disguise financial transactions as legitimate sales of alcohol in the bonds market between January 2011 and October 2012.
The money from the transactions was paid to alcohol distribution firm Anglotrade Beverages Ireland, run by 37-year-old Richard Strauss, and immediately transferred overseas from the business account.
The pair were jailed for six years each after a three-year investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
David Margree, assistant director for criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “This sentencing brings to an end a three-year investigation, centred on a highly organised and complex fraud. Singh’s company was set up to create an illusion of legitimate trading when in fact their sole purpose was to clean up the dirty cash of criminal activity.
Those involved knew they were breaking the law by providing a service for criminals to launder their cashDavid Margree, HMRC
“Those involved knew they were breaking the law by providing a service for criminals to launder their cash in an attempt to hide their criminal profits and avoid detection by law enforcement.”
Bhader Singh was stopped in his car in Waltham Abbey in December 2011, when HMRC officers found £49,800 in two parcels wrapped up as Christmas presents.
A search of his home uncovered a further £40,200 in a wardrobe and a diary showing details of money that Singh collected and distributed over six months, totalling around £14.5 million, some of which was linked to Strauss and Anglotrade Beverages Ireland.
Strauss, who was linked to more than £7 million of laundered money, was found with £50,060 in a sports bag when he was arrested in Washington, Tyne and Wear, in November 2012.
Both men were found guilty of being part of the money laundering racket following a seven-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Confiscation proceedings to recover the proceeds of the fraud will follow.
Two other defendants were found not guilty.
Mr Margree said: “HMRC is investing more time and resources than ever into identifying fraud. Our work does not stop at sentencing, but at depriving those involved of the proceeds of their crimes.”
Bhader Singh, of Kettering and Richard Strauss, from Leeds, helped to launder £20 million in an attempt to hide its criminal origins, believed to be from the sale of illicit alcohol.