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The National Crime Agency has found a forfeiture order for 15 gold bars that are worth £650,000.
NCA investigators say that the order is linked to an international money laundering network. The National Crime Agency’s financial investigators began looking into the case after a Singaporean national was stopped at Heathrow Airport in March 2020 as she was arriving on a flight from Singapore.
The female was travelling through Heathrow to catch a flight to Chennai, India when Border Force officers found her carrying the gold bars in her hand-carry luggage.
Initially, she told the NCA investigators that she was carrying the gold bars from a jeweller in Singapore to another jeweller in India. However, she did not have a satisfactory explanation for her strange choice of route.
The NCA captured the gold bars ad suspected proceeds of crime and allowed the woman to take her flight to India.
Further investigations by the NCA revealed that the woman was carrying fake invoices for the gold bars, and the Chennai-based jeweller she mentioned did not actually exist.
On Wednesday 26 January, after a two-day hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates, the NCA was given forfeiture of the gold bars under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
NCA Branch Commander Andy Noyes stated:
“Gold is an attractive commodity for criminals to use to move money because relatively small amounts can have a high value. Our investigation pointed to these gold bars belonging to a criminal money laundering network active in both Europe and Asia.
“We think they were attempting to move them through London to try and disguise their routing, and avoid the attentions of Indian law enforcement upon arrival there.
“NCA investigators worked with Indian partners to disprove the story given to officers by the woman carrying the gold bars, and show that on the balance of probabilities they were proceeds of crime.
“Working with partners like Border Force we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the flow of illicit money coming through the UK.”