18 June 2017
A forfeiture hearing has seen €380,000 and £55,000 taken from two men who were sentenced to eight years imprisonment for money laundering.
The men were arrested in November 2016 after officers from the joint NCA and Met Police Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) stopped Yuanbin Zhao who was carrying a rucksack outside an address in Barrett Street, West London.
On searching the rucksack officers recovered approximately €300,000 including bundles of €500 notes. In 2010, UK money exchanges stopped selling €500 notes after analysis suggested up to 90% of them were in the hands of organised crime.
When officers entered the Barrett Street address, they found a second man, Li Wu, with three phones in front of him and a further nine phones in boxes. There was also a money counting machine and another quantity of cash in sterling and euros, which had been compressed to minimize their bulk. In total the cash seized was €388,000 and £55,500.
Officers also recovered some paperwork in Chinese and English listing names against figures ranging from £5k to 50k, adding up to £355,000.
Yuanbin Zhao (pictured above, right), pleaded guilty, and in May after a five day trial Li Wu (above, left) was found guilty of money laundering.
A judge at Kingston Crown Court jailed them on Thursday 15 June, and the following day a judge ordered them to forfeit the cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, ruling that the money seized was the proceeds of crime.
Stephen Borg of the OCP said: “Organised crime groups rely on money launderers to benefit from and re-invest their criminal profits.
"Taking money launderers out of the chain, as we have done here, makes life far more difficult and more risky for criminals trying to clean their dirty cash.”