A pair of money launderers that helped “clean up” millions of pounds of dirty cash have been jailed for a total of 12 years after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation.
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.
Singh, 35, 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.
David Margree, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
“This sentencing brings to an end a three-year investigation, centered 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 cash in an attempt to hide their criminal profits and avoid detection by law enforcement.
“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 was stopped in his car in Waltham Abbey in December 2011 and HMRC officers found two parcels wrapped as Christmas presents, but actually contained £49,800 in cash. 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.
This led officers to Strauss and his full part in the scam, as the investigation linked him to more than £7 million of laundered money. Strauss was found with £50,060 in a sports bag when arrested in 2012.
Both were found guilty of being a 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 for their part in the money laundering and acquitted on Tuesday 3 March.
Notes for editors
1. Bhader Singh, DOB 05/04/79, of Pytchley Road, Kettering, Northamptonshire set up a company called Cooper and Hargreaves, claiming he was wholesaler. He was charged with Converting/Transferring Criminal Property between 1 January 2011 and 2 December 2011 to the value of £14,500,000. Singh was also charged with two further counts of possession of criminal property in regards the £90,000 cash found in his possession on 2 December 2011. He was found guilty of all charges at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday 3 March, 2015 and sentenced to six years in prison when he appeared at the same court on Wednesday 11 March 2015.
2. Richard Strauss, DOB 03/07/77, of Avenue Court, Leeds, Yorkshire, was the director of Anglotrade Beverages Ireland. He was charged with Converting/Transferring Criminal Property between 1 January 2011 and 31 October 2012, to the value of £7,112,150. He was also charged with possession of criminal property in regards to the £50,060 cash found in his possession around 19 November 2012. He was found guilty of all charges at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday 3 March, 2015 and sentenced to six years in prison when he appeared at the same court on Wednesday 11 March 2015.
3. The “bonds” market is where two companies trade in buying and selling alcohol “underbond”’. This is where it is kept in warehouses and suspended from excise duty, until it is placed into the market.
4.Photographs are available on HMRC’s Flickr site: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
5.Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.
HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.