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Investigation leads to largest- ever sentences for money laundering

An investigation carried out by the Organised Crime Partnership (“OCP”), a joint National Crime Agency (NCA) and Metropolitan Police Service unit, resulted in two men being handed prison sentences for money laundering totalling 33 years.

Artem Terzyan and Deivis Grochiatskij headed up an international criminal network responsible for laundering £70 million, of which £10 million came from fraudulent Bounce Back Loans (BBLs).

The investigation began in October 2017 when investigators from the OCP saw a third man, Auriel Zylyfi, put a large bag of cash into an Audi in North London.

A month later, investigators saw another man give Zylyfi £40,000 in an underground car park. Both men were arrested, and each was sentenced to a year in prison.

OCP investigators searched Zylyfi’s flat and found a ledger detailing financial transactions of more than £7 million in just four months. The subsequent investigation and surveillance on the Audi, which was used in multiple cash transactions, led the investigators to Terzyan and Grochiatskij.

Over the years, the gang opened bank accounts in the names of various fake businesses they had set up into which they deposited tens of thousands of pounds in cash. The money was then sent from one company to another in a complex web of transactions before being sent to international accounts across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

When Grochiatskij’s and Terzyan’s properties were searched, investigators found more ledgers and a computer detailing the vast sums being laundered, along with details of the various bank accounts used for the fraud. Analysis of the evidence, from the ledgers to photographs and CCTV footage revealed that the two men had laundered £36 million in 2017/18, with £16 million of that coming from cash deposits.

The men were released on bail, whereupon they began claiming fraudulent BBLs for their fake companies. At £50,000 per claim, this amounted to more than £10 million. They also continued their money laundering activity to the tune of £34 million.

Referring to the case, Helen Gregory, Forensic Director at Milsted Langdon, said that money laundering on this scale could only be uncovered by a painstaking investigation, with analysis of all the evidence, from photographs, CCTV, bank transfers plus the Defendants’ own books and records.

“This was clearly a complex and significant money laundering operation that took advantage of schemes designed to support the UK economy,” said Helen.

“HMRC, the police and Government agencies are cracking down on abuse of the financial measures put in place during the pandemic and we will likely see further prosecutions and penalties in future based on the evidence uncovered during financial investigations.”

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