Illegal immigrant money laundering gang….

Posted: February 9, 2010 in Law & Disorder

…collected £24million of ‘dirty’ drug deal money in shopping trollies and Special K cereal boxes in just eight months on behalf of gangland bosses.

IlieThe 13-strong gang included 10 Iraqi Kurd asylum seekers, all of whom came to the country illegally in the backs of lorries ten years ago. Only one of the ten Kurds now faces deportation.

Brothers Aravin Ali, 35, and Ali Rawand, 36, operated a seemingly legitimate foreign exchange bureau, Ravin, on London’s Edgware Road. Covert surveillance watching the brothers and their team of couriers saw them exchange parcels of pounds Sterling for euros, minus a commission. The money was swapped for euros at motorway service stations and at the homes of their gang members.

The only female member of the gang, Rawand’s ex-girlfriend Eftychiou Symiondioy, 50, used her flat in Paddington, west London as a storage area for the cash. Customs officers videoed her taking a Kellogg’s Special K cereal box loaded with £200,000 drug money to a waiting car – before going straight back inside as the car went off.

The brothers invested the proceeds of the scam in property outside of Britain including Russia, Ukraine, Iraq and Dubai.

The benefits of swapping Sterling for euros is because of the 500 euro note, if a person wanted to take £100,000 to the continent they would have to carry 2,000 sterling notes but only 250 Euro notes.

After the swap, gang members took the cash to various legal Bureaux de Change to exchange for further euros, and the process would start again. Couriers used by the company said they were working for a company called ‘Kurdistan Ltd’, to disguise the amount of illegal cash passing through their hands.

One gang member, Michael O’Leary, 66, ran a ‘counting house’ for the gang at a council flat in Covent Garden. When officers went into O’Leary’s address there was a TV screen which was showing the exchange rate from the euro to the pound, at least one money counting machine which was on operation at the time and there was a large amount of cash dotted about the property.

In just two raids customs officers netted £813,211.25, and euro notes worth £460,000.

Seven members of the gang admitted between one and three money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Rawand of Kilburn was jailed for six years, and Ali, of no fixed abode was jailed for five years. Eftychia of Paddington was jailed for 20 months. Mohamed Buanani, 37, of Harlesden, was jailed for 20 months, Keith Penny, 39 of Kilburn was jailed for two and a half years. O’Leary, of Covent Garden was jailed for 20 months. Andrew Dickson, 41, of Bournemouth, Dorset was jailed for 20 months.

The remaining six members of the gang were convicted after a trial for money laundering offences.

Ali Mahmood Sardar, 37, of Southall, the only member of the gang who faces deportation, was sentenced to 30 months.

Nawzad Ahmed, 36, of St John’s Wood, was jailed for two and a half years, Darsim Abdullah, 39, of Barnes, was jailed for one year.

Sadiq Altalibi, 33, of Hammersmith, a courier on benefits who also worked as a taxi driver was jailed for six months.

Rawand and Ali’s father Hasiv Rashid, 70, who occasionally stood in for the brothers while away was jailed for 12 months, while his disabled son-in-law Anwar Hardi, 36, who lost use of a hand after a bomb blast in Iraq, was jailed for three years.

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