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Money Laundering Case Examples

Money Laundering Case Examples

If you or someone you care about has been charged with Money Laundering, it stands to reason that you might be curious about other Money Laundering cases. In particular, you might be interested in knowing what past cases were about, and how guilty parties were punished.

money laundering conspiracy

Being charged with an offence as serious as money laundering can be frightening. The government has made extensive efforts to clamp down on money laundering in the UK, and as such the criminal justice system can treat offenders harshly. You might be wondering what will happen at your trial, what punishment you might face, and how you might be able to defend yourself. As you begin to prepare a defence, knowing how other money laundering cases in this category have been treated by courts (what happened, what sentences were received, etc.) can set your mind at ease about the many unknowns that you face.

What are money laundering offences?

Money laundering occurs when people transfer money through a series of complex financial transactions to hide it from those who might try to trace or review the transactions, such as business owners, investors, tax authorities, or law enforcement. The ultimate aim of money launderers is to ‘cleanse’ money through these transactions so that its true origin – usually being the proceeds of crime – is hidden and the money launderer can eventually use the money without suspicion. Examples of money laundering include:

  • Fronting. This involves using a business as a ‘front’ to cleanse money. For example, a money launderer could open a floristry business and create fake wedding orders to process large amounts of ‘dirty’ cash through their business, thus making it look like the florist was securing large payments from customers but in reality just sending the proceeds of crime through the business so that it can ultimately be used as if it were normal cash.
  • Fake investments. Like fronting, this is where the money laundering deposits large cash amounts into a bank account – often owned by a business – for the apparent purchase of equipment, funding of salaries, and so on, but actually is just hiding the money there for ‘cleansing’ and processing at a later date. It is not unusual for businesses to receive large cash amounts, so there is often little suspicion from authorities. This also happens with property ‘investments’, where large sums of cash are invested into deposits, renovations, or other property-related activities.
  • Off-shore layering. To conceal the origin of funds, many money launderers will route money through off-shore bank accounts in an attempt to hide the cash’s trail from on-shore authorities, who may not have the legal power to investigate the source of foreign funds. This is known as ‘layering’ because it adds another layer of transaction on top of the trail that can divert attention from the true source.

In the UK, money laundering is dealt with by the Proceeds of Crimes Act 2002, the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, and a series of complex national and international anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

 Money laundering case examples

Case Details Judgment Date Sentence Link to Transcript
Defendants ‘suspected’ cash was proceeds of crime but were not certain 07/06/2005 Acquitted Court Transcript
Conspiracy to launder proceeds of drug trafficking 17/02/2006 Confiscation of £2.5 million Court Transcript
Estate agent entering into money laundering agreement 19/06/2006 3 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Transferring £300,000 to Jamaica in suspected drug trafficking scheme 18/12/2012 2 years’ imprisonment, reduced to 15 months’ Court Transcript
Laundering £2.2 million over a period of ten days 13/01/2017 18 months’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Laundering in the context of property lease fraud 19/06/2012 3.5 years’ imprisonment Court Transcript
Insider dealing and transferring criminal property worth £197,000 23/10/2012 18 months’ imprisonment  

Court Transcript


Money laundering cases defended by Stuart Miller Solicitors

The team at Stuart Miller Solicitors deal with money laundering and fraud cases on a daily basis. Many times, the first instance in which you receive details about the offence you are alleged to have committed will be the police interview (and even then, you may not get much information from the investigating officers at all). Ensure you have an experienced money laundering defence solicitor with you at this meeting, as the police can use highly complex techniques to get information out of you and you need to protect yourself from self-incrimination.

Examples of money laundering cases defended by Stuart Miller Solicitors include:

  • A man who wanted to borrow cash from a friend to buy a council house was arrested and charged with conspiring to transfer criminal property as part of a wider money laundering plot, but was cleared when the team at Stuart Miller Solicitors proved he had not acted criminally in seeking to purchase the house.
  • Many international money laundering cases involving jurisdictions as diverse as: Afghanistan, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Spain, South Africa, and the United States of America.

What are the sentencing guidelines for money laundering offences?

Sentencing for money laundering cases can be complex because of the sheer number of ways in which the offence may be committed, and the different amounts involved. Generally, the more money involved, the harsher the punishment.

The maximum sentence for money laundering is 14 years’ imprisonment if tried at the Crown Court and a maximum of 12 months if you are being tried for more than one offence at the Magistrate’s Court (the maximum is 12 months if you are being tried for one offence).

As with other crimes, the courts may look at mitigating factors that could reduce the sentence you are given. Mitigating factors might include:

  • Being forced into participation (for example, if someone threatened you to hide money for them)
  • Showing a high level of remorse
  • The given offence being your first offence
  • Good character references, including good professional references that show this behaviour was out of character
  • The impact that imprisonment may have on your family, particularly vulnerable persons like children or immediate family members with serious health conditions
  • The presence of any serious medical conditions that require you to have ongoing, long-term, urgent, or intensive treatment
  • Whether your participation was legitimate at the start, and only later became illegal through deliberate or accidental actions
  • Your willingness to provide compensation or apologies to the victims
  • Your willingness to cooperate with authorities in providing information about your involvement and the involvement of others
  • Whether extenuating circumstances, such as serious financial hardship that affected your family, was a reason for your participation in the money laundering

Money laundering may also entail other consequences, such as ancillary orders (additional restrictions on your financial and business life, for example: confiscations, requirements to pay reparations, and paying compensation).

Read more about money laundering sentencing.

As with other criminal prosecutions, money laundering cases have to be dismissed if there is not sufficient evidence to convict, but where there is evidence against you, you may be able to rely on one of the following general defences to have your sentence reduced or case thrown out altogether:

  • Duress. As mentioned, if someone forces you into participation in the money laundering (either through physical violence, threats to your family, attacks on your business, or similar pressures), you may be able to rely on the defence of duress. This defence will only succeed if you genuinely believed that some danger of harm would have resulted if you did not participate in the crime.
  • Mistake. If you genuinely mistook the circumstances surrounding the alleged money laundering and that mistake led you to taking actions that you would otherwise not have taken, you may be able to rely on this general defence. Ignorance of money laundering laws is not the same as the defence of mistake, so you cannot simply state that you were unaware that what you were doing was illegal.
  • Insanity. If, due to mental illness, you were unable to understand your actions and the fact that they were against the law, you may be acquitted on the grounds of insanity. This defence does result in acquittal if successful, which means you could avoid a prison term, but it comes with the very serious consequence of potential detention under the Mental Health Act of 1983, so this should never be relied upon to justify actions that were due to mental illness, but not true insanity.

While not strictly a defence, you might also be able to reduce your sentence for money laundering by entering an early guilty plea. If aged 18 or over, you could reduce your sentence by as much as one third by pleading guilty ‘early on’ (which means anytime up to the first hearing at the Magistrates or Crown Court).

How can I get further help?

If you would like to speak to a highly experienced criminal defence solicitor with money laundering expertise, look no further than the team at Stuart Miller Solicitors. You can arrange a friendly and non-judgemental meeting in person, online, or by telephone by going to our Contact page, and you can even send us WhatsApp messages to get information on next steps if you prefer.

(This page was last updated on November 28, 2023.)


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