Companies agree to forfeit £29m allegedly linked to money laundering

A Cyprus-based company and a South African law firm have agreed to give up nearly £29 million that was allegedly linked to money laundering in the UK’s biggest ever forfeiture case.

Prosecutors working with the City of London Police said they had reached an agreement with the two companies that would see them give up the 34 million euros from two bank accounts.

The agreement settles a case which alleges the funds in the bank accounts came from unlawful conduct, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Friday.

The CPS and police managed to freeze the two accounts in June last year, and the two cooperated with Europol and foreign police forces, as well as the private sector, to track down the source of the money.

They found “overwhelming evidence” that the money came from international money laundering and had been layered through the UK banking system to make it look legitimate.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, Xiperias Ltd and Du Toit & Co LLP agreed that the money was the proceeds of unlawful conduct committed by others, of which they were not aware.

Chief crown prosecutor Adrian Foster said: “This case sends a clear message that a company or individual does not have to have been convicted for us to pursue, seize and take the proceeds of crime passing through the city of London.

“The CPS has the ability to use our specialist knowledge and experience to assist police forces to tackle international illicit finance and economic crime.

“We will continue to work together to use the full range of our powers to disrupt criminals’ ability to benefit from their illegal activity at home and abroad.”

Clinton Blackburn, from the City of London Police, said: “Money laundering, the process of legitimising money gained from criminal activities, is integral to organised crime. This case sends out a strong message that we will continue to pursue those involved in enabling financial crime.

“The City of London Police, and its partners, will continue to cut access to money laundering routes, which is key to defeating organised crime at source.”

The PA news agency has attempted to contact representatives for Xiperias and Du Toit & Co.