14 May 2019
The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) has seized approximately £6 million in assets from a British lotto winner, a property developer and a barrister believed to be members of an international money laundering ring.
The seizure orders mark the culmination of an 8-year civil recovery case against businessman Jonathan Nuttall over his alleged ties to convicted drug trafficker Amir Azam, the NCA said. The civil case led to the discovery of a criminal network that laundered hundreds of millions of pounds linked to Russian state embezzlement schemes and UK-based frauds, the agency said.
Nuttall, a Hampshire businessman, is not named in the orders because he structured his ill-gotten wealth under the name of his wife, Amanda Nuttall, who in 2008 won more than £2.5 million from the National Lottery but could not subsequently give a consistent account of how her winnings were spent, according to the agency.
The orders also targeted property owned by Lapworth-based property developer Eric Grove and London-based barrister Timothy Becker. Grove, 89, has been described as one of the most successful property entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom and Becker, 55, has practiced law for nearly 30 years, the NCA noted.
The agency said it had seized a total of eleven properties, including the “award-winning” White Horse Hotel and Brasserie in Romsey and multiple properties in London, after discovering a “vast amount of evidence of money laundering through a series of companies” in the UK, Russia, Austria, Croatia, Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands and the United States.
Proceeds from the money laundering ring went toward a London flat in Belgravia, the rental of a private jet, holidays in Cannes and Dubai and the purchase of a £100,000 Bentley sedan, which was seized by the agency under the orders announced Sunday.
Azam, who was convicted by a British court for drug trafficking, used illicit proceeds to buy at least seven properties in the UK as well as property in Spain, according to court documents. In 2015, the NCA won a landmark case after the District Court of Luxembourg agreed to allow the agency to seize nearly £330,000 held in bank accounts in the country.
Two other individuals—Sandro Stipancic and Igor Krota—who served as former directors of one of the companies identified by the NCA are currently under investigation for their potential involvement in financial crimes at Dinamo Zagreb football club, the NCA said.
In February, Croatian officials indicted the former executive director of Dinamo Zagreb, Zdravko Mamić, for allegedly defrauding the club. Mamić, who remains at large, was convicted last year as part of a related embezzlement case involving Stipancic and Krota, Total Croatia News reported.
“Professional enablers such as barristers play a pivotal role in facilitating the movement and concealment of criminal finance,” said Graeme Biggar, director general of the UK National Economic Crime Centre, in a statement announcing Sunday’s asset seizures. “We will continue to be relentless in targeting criminals’ wealth regardless of where, and through whom, they choose to try to hide it.”
Photo: National Crime Agency
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