Beatrice Auty helped money launderers by bringing millions to the UAE
Beatrice Auty. Picture: NCA
April 26, 2023
A woman from Fulham has been found guilty of helping a money laundering operation by smuggling large sums of cash out of the country to Dubai.
The jury at Isleworth Crown Court failed to accept the defence of 26-year-old Beatrice Auty of Stephendale Road and her three co-defendants that they had genuinely believed what they were doing was legal.
They were part of an operation that brought over £100 million to the UAE during 83 separate trips between November 2019 and October 2020, overseen by ringleader Abdullah Alfalsi, 47, who was jailed for more than nine years in July last year.
Eleven couriers working for the money launders have now been convicted including Auty who was found guilty this Tuesday (25 April) along with Jonathan Johnson, 55, and Jo Emma Larvin, 44, both from Ripon in North Yorkshire, and Amy Harrison, 27, from Worcester Park in Surrey.
Liam Rabone of West Kensington, who was facing the same charges was cleared.
The couriers, who were paid around £3,000 for each trip and would be booked on business class flights due to the extra luggage allowance. They communicated with each other on burner phones on a Whatsapp group entitled ’Sunshine and lollipops’.
The network collected cash from criminal groups around the UK, which was believed to be the profits of drug dealing, and took it to counting houses, usually rented apartments in Central London.
The money was then vacuum packed and separated into suitcases which would typically each contain around £500,000, weighing around 40 kilos. They were sprayed with coffee or air fresheners in an effort to prevent them being found by Border Force detection dogs.
Tara Hanlon, who was convicted in June 2021, had persuaded Auty to get involved. Hanlon had travelled from Heathrow to Dubai on three occasions in August and September 2020, checking in 18 suitcases which contained £6.8 million.
Auty, who was arrested following raids in May 2021, travelled the same route twice in July and August of that year, checking in seven suitcases containing £3.4 million. Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, who was convicted of money laundering in March 2021, joined her on the second trip.
She was involved in the logistical arrangements for another 16 trips, helping to pack cash into suitcases, accompanying travellers to Heathrow and collecting empty suitcases when they returned so they could be used again.
Auty after her third trip. The prosecution said that videos found on her phone showed her unpacking the cash in her hotel room.
The trial follows an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA). The NCA investigation has been supported by Border Force and the UAE authorities.
Adrian Searle, Director of the National Economic Crime Centre in the NCA, said, “The laundering of such vast quantities of cash around the globe enables organised criminals and corrupt elites to clean or hide their ill-gotten gains.
“Cash smugglers typically work on behalf of International Controller Networks, who move the finances of the international drug trade, people traffickers, fraudsters and other criminal groups, making the source of the money difficult to trace.
“The criminality this enables costs the UK billions every year, causes misery and ruins lives across the world.
“This case demonstrates the continued commitment by the NCA to crackdown on money laundering and close the vulnerabilities being exploited.”
NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said, “These couriers were important cogs in a large money laundering wheel. The crime group they belonged to was responsible for smuggling eye-watering amounts of criminal cash out of the UK.
“This simply wouldn’t have been possible without couriers doing their bidding, in return for a sunshine holiday and a slice of the profit.
“Cash is the lifeblood of organised crime groups, which they re-invest into activities such as drug trafficking. This fuels violence and insecurity around the world, which is why our investigation into other cash couriers continues.”
The couriers convicted this week are due to be sentenced soon along with those found guilty at earlier trials. A number of British couriers are under investigation in the UAE and cannot leave until inquiries have been completed by UAE law enforcement.
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