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Four jailed in £145 million money laundering plot

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Four jailed in £145 million money laundering plot

Two people who ran a money laundering service to criminals through their family-owned London bureaux de change have been jailed for 19 years, after ‘cleaning up’ £145 million of dirty cash. Two others who acted as money couriers were also jailed.

The three bureaux gave the impression of being legitimate, high street currency exchanges serving the London tourist market. But a criminal investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found their main trade was actually exchanging large amounts of Sterling for high denomination Euro notes for organised crime groups.

Peter Millroy, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“This gang of criminals were under the delusion they could escape detection – they were wrong and are now paying the price behind bars. Their activities bore no relation to what is expected from high street bureaux de change. Instead they used their business as a front to launder the profits made by many of the UK’s most serious and dangerous crime gangs.”

The bureaux were run by two different companies; Universal Money Exchange (UME), operating from premises on Shaftesbury Avenue and Oxford Street, and Buckingham Money Exchange (BME), operating from premises on Buckingham Palace Road.

Both companies were under the control of husband and wife, Moothathamby and Thilageswary Sriskantharajah.

Masterminded by Moothathamby Sriskantharajah, the companies would place significant orders for high denomination Euro notes from money wholesalers. The deliveries of this cash would coincide with visits from money couriers – Marlene Cumbo and her sister Lucia Cumbo. The sisters transported Sterling to the bureaux on behalf of their criminal associates to be exchanged for Euros. Once this was done they would return the Euros to their ‘customers’.

HMRC officers raided Universal Money Exchange in September 2011 and found more than £100,000 in cash on the premises. They also found a set of keys that fitted two safe deposit boxes at Harrods, registered to Thilageswary Sriskantharajah and containing over £250,000 in cash and high value gold jewellery. The items were seized and all four defendants were arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences.

Marlene Cumbo was caught by HMRC officers in August 2011 after she had visited one of the bureaux and left with a Harrods carrier bag containing nearly €91,000 in €200 notes. During a search of her home her sister Lucia arrived carrying an envelope in her handbag containing a further €34,750 mostly in €200 notes. Both women were arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences.

All four defendants were later charged under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Notes for editors

  1. Photographs of the defendants and cash and jewellery seized are available on request or from HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
  1. Details of the defendants sentenced yesterday (Thursday 18 December 2014) at Southwark Crown Court
    • Moothathamby Sriskantharajah (DOB 07.03.55) a German national of Marlborough Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7, was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in jail and banned from being a director for 12 years.
    • Thilageswary Sriskantharajah, Mrs (DOB 07.04.66) a German national of Marlborough Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7, was found guilty and sentenced to seven years jail and banned from being a director for eight years.
    • Marlene Cumbo,Ms (DOB 13.12.61) of Compton Street, London EC1V, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three and a half years jail.
    • Lucia Lucy Cumbo, Ms (16.04.60) of Worcester Point, Central Street, London EC1V, was found guilty and sentenced to two years jail. 

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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.

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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.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
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SW1A 2BQ London