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Money trail of a ghost

Member: Nifa

The investigation into the financial dealings of a boss of a multi-million-pound drugs trafficking racket has not stopped now he has been jailed for 32 years. If anything, the investigation has stepped up to find out where he hid his profits so that he can pay for his crimes.

One of the problems investigators faced was that drug baron James Mulvey “did his best to live as a ghost, having no footprints of a home address, assets or bank accounts.” Therefore, the authorities are continuing to examine his financial trail through bank accounts and transactions abroad, as he had no bank accounts in the UK.

The criminal conducted all his business through offshore transactions that included £11.5 million going through one business alone. He used these funds to live a lavish lifestyle, which included building a £1.5 million state-of-the-art villa near Marbella, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a cinema room and a lift.

While he spent more than £1,000 a week on his cocaine habit, Mulvey was careful to hide the spoils of his business, which used haulage firms to transport concealed drugs from mainland Europe into Ireland via the West Midlands.

However, once a forensic investigation is set in motion, all it takes is one thread that the forensic accountants can follow for the deceptions to begin to unravel and for the true picture to become clear. Initially, investigators identified companies in the Isle of Man and then worked through hundreds of thousands of documents to follow the money trail to as far afield as Mauritius. They took into account his lifestyle and reasoned that huge amounts of cash would have been needed to have funded it.  They also examined phone records, emails and interviews in a bid to uncover the extent of the criminal empire.

Roger Isaacs, Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “In the age of social media, online banking and smart phones, it is rare to find a suspect who has been living totally off the grid. But as criminals have become more sophisticated, so have forensic investigations and the techniques we use to uncover hidden stashes of money.”

Author: Roger Isaacs 22 June 2018

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