London: An Indian-origin man convicted of being involved in a multi-million-pound money laundering operation has been sentenced to eight years in prison by a UK court.
Chauhan Vijay Yogendrasinh was the director of Rushi Investments Limited, a company which appeared to be a legitimate money transfer service but was found to be a money laundering operation transferring criminal money overseas.
The 55-year-old was caught following an investigation by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit's Regional Asset Recovery Team, which found that more than 11,000,000 pounds had gone through the business based in Leicester.
Yogendrasinh had denied his involvement but following a seven-week trial, he was found guilty last month of conspiracy to transfer criminal property between January 2011 and March 2016. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment on Thursday and was also disqualified from being a company director for eight years.
Leicestershire Police said that while it is accepted some of the money was transferred legally, millions of pounds was found to have been transferred illegally through different bank accounts and companies to be sent abroad.
This was an operation which involved millions of pounds of criminal cash being transferred illegally," said Detective Constable Grant Bailey of Leicestershire Police. A complex police investigation which involved tireless hours of examining documents, checking financial records and carrying out CCTV enquiries - amongst other work - meant that we were able to prove what business' was actually being run by Rushi Investments, he said.
It is not known what criminal enterprise the money came from but the police said its probe, which included uncovering huge amounts of cash and numerous false documents, proved that money laundering had been committed.
Investigations into Yogendrasinh showed Rushi Investments had used legitimate money service bureaus, misleading the companies so that they would transfer the money abroad. This was done through false lists of people which were created to try and explain where the large amounts of money being deposited had come from.
Some invoices found in relation to transactions made overseas were also found to be false. CCTV and surveillance work was also carried out which showed that while it was suggested that dozens of people had been attending the business daily in order to deposit money, this was not correct.
Further enquiries to prove the crime showed large amounts of cash had passed through the personal bank accounts of Yogendrasinh which didn't match up to what had been declared to HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs), the UK revenue department.
Bailey added: Money laundering involves cash gained from criminal activity. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We will take action against anyone we believe to be involved in this type of activity and we will do the investigative work which is required to prove the crime.
We will now carry out confiscation proceedings with a view to taking back the ill-gotten gains obtained through this criminal conduct. The police also established that cuckoo smurfing had been committed - when a person unwittingly allows their bank account to be used to deposit money.
The victims of this were expecting a large cash payment into their bank accounts, but the money had come from Rushi Investments Ltd using criminal funds - the bank accounts were being used to try and disguise the origin and destination of the cash.
At the hearing last month, police officers and staff including DC Bailey, Detective Chief Inspector Ed McBryde-Wilding and financial investigator Divita Raithatha were commended for their work.
Yogendrasinh will also have to undergo a hearing under the UK's Proceeds of Crime Act in an attempt to establish further details of the laundered money.