National Crime Agency
NCA recovers $8 million linked to international organised crime
Millions of pounds of laundered criminal money has been recovered by the National Crime Agency after an investigation into a corrupt Liberian business account.
On 8 April 2020, the NCA issued a Notice of Forfeiture on the account’s balance of $8 million dollars (approx £6.4 million), which investigators argued was part of a fund operated for the purpose of tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and corruption.
The NCA’s investigation began when Commerzbank AG London approached the National Economic Crime Centre after noticing unusual activity on an account held by a Liberian company called ‘The Albatross Limited’.
The bank account had been internally investigated and suspended after an individual had tried to set up a new account and move the money, explaining that it was to be paid to various charities. Since then, no one had attempted to touch the money.
The company behind the account was incorporated in Liberia, West Africa, in the 1970s and was purportedly set up to operate large container ships for an international shipping company.
Working in partnership with the bank, NCA investigators were able to secure and analyse over 10 years-worth of data which established that the account had been set up using fake identities.
The shipping company had no knowledge of the company and were able to show that it had never appeared on any of their balance sheets.
All of those identified as being affected by the application gave their consent for the administrative forfeiture of the funds totalling $8,042.059.57.
The money had been held under an Account Freezing Order, granted to the NCA at Westminster Magistrates Court in October 2019.
Tim Quarrelle, NCA Financial Investigations Manager, yesterday said:
“This was a significant forfeiture, which was the result of six months of investigative work, during sometimes challenging times.
“Commerzbank rightly referred this account, which had sat untouched for years and had a history of red flags.
“Part of the money recovered will go directly back into fighting serious and organised crime.”
Sarah Pritchard, Director of the National Economic Crime Centre, at the NCA, yesterday said:
“This is a fantastic example of how public and private sectors can work together to detect and disrupt economic crime – denying criminals of their illicit funds.
“Money laundering underpins and enables most forms of organised crime, allowing criminals to hide their assets and continue their operations.
“Working with partners, we will continue to use our powers to look for and target funds that we suspect are linked to crime.”
Robert McMillan at Commerzbank said: “At Commerzbank we have a strong compliance culture and have invested significant resources in our AML policies and controls, so we are pleased to have worked with the NCA to achieve this result.”
Latest News from
National Crime Agency
British fugitive arrested in Barcelona27/05/2020 11:15:00
A British man has been arrested in Barcelona on suspicion of conspiring to murder two men in the UK.
Man charged over drugs and money laundering after cocaine and £200,000 find26/05/2020 16:15:00
A man has been charged after an investigations by the Organised Crime Partnership – the joint National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police fight against serious organised crime.
Surprise! Fugitive arrested on his birthday after seven years on the run26/05/2020 13:43:00
An alleged drugs trafficker who has been wanted since 2013 was traced and arrested as he celebrated his 45th birthday.
Trio arrested as more than £60k cash seized in Birmingham26/05/2020 11:15:00
National Crime Agency officers have arrested two men and a woman after £62,700 cash was seized as part of an operation into drugs supply and money laundering in Birmingham.
Millions of pounds and tonnes of drugs seized during lockdown26/05/2020 10:10:00
The National Crime Agency and law enforcement partners have seized 25 tonnes of class A drugs and at least £15 million in cash during the Covid-19 lockdown
Arrest on the A2 as part of NCA people smuggling investigation19/05/2020 14:15:00
A 26-year-old man has been arrested as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into the alleged smuggling of migrants into the UK.
Fowl play: four jailed for importing hundreds of kilos of cocaine in frozen chicken18/05/2020 10:15:00
Four members of a criminal network have been jailed for a total of over 50 years for transporting hundreds of kilos of cocaine through Kent, stashed in frozen chicken and marrow bones.
Two men charged in cash find at the border18/05/2020 09:15:00
Two men have been charged with money laundering offences after £90,000 was found in a vehicle attempting to cross the UK border