ALMOST £900,000 including works of art by Banksy has been confiscated from two men sentenced last year in connection with money laundering offenses.
Juliya Director Charith Abeysinghege, 29, and Richard Wheatley, 45, were sentenced to seven years in prison last April.
Abeysinghege owned money service business Uniforex, based in South Woodford, which facilitated the conversion of cash proceeds from drugs offences into 500 euro notes, purchased from the currency wholesaler Interchange, based in Marble Arch, W1.
Wheatley was a low ranking professional poker player, who used his profession to justify his possession of large sums of money if questioned.
On Abeysinghege’s instructions, Uniforex staff would meet Wheatley in his car, and bags containing cash would be exchanged.
Each time an average of £150,000 was exchanged for conversion to 500 euro notes.
Following a four-year investigation – Operation Grangecourt – a judge at Southwark Crown Court assessed the benefit gained by the pair from their scam as approximately £1.5million.
The judge imposed financial confiscation orders to the value of £884,801.70.
Abeysinghege, whose individual benefit figure was determined as £735,891.00, was issued with a Confiscation Order of £161,325.73, including land and bank accounts in Sri Lanka. Approximately £71,000 in cash was seized.
Wheatley, whose individual benefit figure was determined as £743,331.84, was issued with a Confiscation Order for £723,475.97, including 49 urban works of art (the majority by ‘Banksy;) valued at £422,300. Cash was seized totaling approx £250,000.
Detective Chief Inspector Theresa Breen, from the Special Intelligence Section, said: “This case demonstrates that the Metropolitan Police will rigorously pursue those involved in organised crime and strip them of the assets, which originate from crime, however long that takes.”