Men jailed over £4.5m ‘laundering project’
Gang spent thousands of pounds on expensive jewellery
TWO west London men have been jailed for carrying out a £4.5 million ‘sophisticated, highly organised international money laundering project’ that enabled them to splash out on expensive jewellery.
Aslan Abazov, 30, of Cromwell Road, in Kensington, was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison at Southwark Crown Court on Monday July 11.
Abazov was jailed alongside Andrejs Ignatjevs, 48, of Victoria Road, in Ruislip, and three others for a string of offences including conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
Detective Inspector Jason Tunn of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Falcon, said: “The evidence in this case showed that [Aslan Gergov, 29, of Bath Terrace] and Abazov were the head of a sophisticated, highly organised, international money laundering project operated to support global cyber crime activity.
“The losses sustained by the UK victims were significant, with evidence produced to the court showing that the gangs’ profit were being used to fund building projects in Russia in further efforts to launder their criminal proceeds.”
The offences began in November 2014, when five business accounts at a wellknown high street bank were compromised after criminals used malware to transfer £1m into ‘ mule accounts’, opened by employees of Gergov and Abazov.
Cash was laundered through accounts and was withdrawn from a number of different London locations, Heathrow Airport.
Proceeds were spent on items including a £3,400 white gold bracelet and a necklace for £2,970.
Abazov and two others who were jailed were caught on camera at a west London store where they bought euros through a mule account totalling £2,504.
Ignatjevs and another man were arrested as they repeatedly tried to buy large sums of Euros from foreign exchange outlets at Heathrow.
A search of one of the jailed men’s properties revealed multiple bank cards.
Abazov was determined by detectives to be one of the ring leaders and was arrested in October last year.
He and another man were found to be running similar operations in Germany, Austria and Poland.
The total amount accumulated through the gang’s fraudulent activity was £4.5m, but police said including total losses to victims are believed to be much higher.
Abazov was involved in funding a building project in Russia that was been under way for 12 months.
So far just £190,000 of the money has been reclaimed, but the Met said legal proceedings are now under way to reclaim more.
Det Insp Tunn added: “Their convictions show the determination within the MPS of actively pursuing these criminals to disrupt their activities and arrest them.”
Abazov pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud, and two counts of converting criminal property.
Ignatjevs was sentenced to five months in prison for conspiracy to defraud.
n JAILED: (Clockwise from above left) Andrejs Ignatjevs, Aslan Abazov, one of the Rolex watches found during a raid, and the site and design for the building project in Russia