UK court sent two men behind bars for a total of 33 years for laundering the equivalent of nearly US $ 95 million and fraudulently claiming $ 13.44 million in COVID-19 rebound loans for their bogus companies , reported the National Crime Agency.
Artem Terzyan, 38, of Russia was sentenced to 17 years and Deivis Grochiatskij, 44, of Lithuania to 16 years in prison after a seven-week trial in September.
Their sentences would be one of the heaviest ever in the UK for money laundering, the NCA said.
The investigation began in October 2017 when police noticed another man, Auriel Zylyfi, leaving a bag full of cash in an Audi at a money-counting house in North West London.
A month later, another man, Artur Terziu, was seen giving Zylyfi pounds sterling worth around $ 54,000 in the underground garage of his apartment in Hazlemere Court, Hendon. The two men were arrested and sentenced to one year in prison.
Police searched Zylyfi’s apartment and found a detailed record of illegal transactions worth over $ 9.4 million, acquired in four months.
After the men were imprisoned, the same Audi continued to deliver bags of money over the next seven months to a building where Terzyan and Grochiatskij lived next to each other.
The pair had opened bank accounts in fake companies’ names and continued to send money between them, before transferring it to accounts in Germany, the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Singapore. .
Terzyan and Grochiatskij were arrested in June 2018, and police seized several money laundering records, a computer as well as an encrypted phone, bank cards and bank details. Analyzing the seized documents, investigators learned that criminals had laundered the equivalent of approximately $ 48 million from 2017 to 2018, including $ 21.5 million in cash deposits.
While on bail, Terzyan and Grochiatskij exploited the government’s COVID-19 support program, claiming bogus Bounce Back (BBL) loans for their businesses, illegally obtaining $ 13.44 million.
They were arrested again in November 2020 and authorities discovered they had laundered an additional $ 45 million from June 2018 until their arrest.
âThese men and their network played a vital role in allowing other criminals to conceal and access their illicit income. The removal of this service will have been a blow to organized criminals in the UK and around the world, âsaid Andy Tickner of the Organized Crime Partnership.