Money laundering network boss hit with multi-million pound confiscation order

The ringleader of a money laundering group that smuggled tens of millions of pounds of criminal cash out of the UK has been hit with a confiscation order.

Abdullah Alfalasi was given the order totalling £3,496,778.68 following a National Crime Agency investigation into his finances.

The 48-year-old Emirati national was previously convicted of co-ordinating a network of couriers who removed £104 million from the UK to the United Arab Emirates between November 2019 and October 2020.

Sixteen couriers have now been convicted. Each carried suitcases carrying hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds in vacuum packed bundles, travelling business class to increase their luggage allowance. The cash smuggled was believed to be profits from drug dealing.

Alfalasi made multiple cash trips himself between Dubai and the UK, from November 2019 to March 2020.

His name appeared on letters bearing the name Omnivest Gold Trading LLC, which was used to cover cash declarations made by the couriers. His phone number was also connected to their flight bookings. 

Alfalasi was arrested by NCA officers at a flat in Belgravia, which belonged to his wife’s family, during a visit to the UK in December 2021, and jailed for nine years in July 2022 after admitting money laundering charges.

He faces an extra 10 years in jail if he fails to pay the money within three months, under the terms of the order imposed by Isleworth Crown Court today (19 March). The money will still be owed even if his sentence is increased.

Among the assets identified and seized from Alfalasi were savings and investments in Emirati banks, his share of properties in the UAE, cryptocurrency funds in a Binance account, vehicles including a Mercedes G63, Ford pickup truck and Toyota Yaris, three Rolex watches and a Patek Philippe watch.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said: “This is a fantastic result and shows the extent of the tools at our disposal to pursue serious and organised criminals, denying them the profit of their crimes.

“Alfalasi oversaw a criminal network of cash couriers who moved dirty money, the lifeblood of organised crime groups, out of the UK at an unprecedented scale.

“He now has a clear choice; to pay the money he owes or face more jail time.”

Adrian Foster, CPS Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: “We have worked hard to obtain a Confiscation Order, which covers all of Alfalasi’s current available assets, to ensure that he does not financially benefit from this crime in what was one of the largest money laundering operations ever run from the UK.

“Should we subsequently discover any new assets belonging to him, then we will take him back to court until he has repaid his full criminal benefit.

“In the last five years, 2018 to 2023, over £480 million has been recovered from CPS obtained Confiscation Orders, ensuring that thousands of convicted criminals cannot profit from their offending. £105m of that amount has been returned to victims of crime, by way of compensation.”

International money laundering networks use cash smuggling, cryptocurrencies, and banking systems to move billions of pounds of dirty money each year.

This cash can be derived from the drugs trade, fraud, other illegal commodities, and even associated with terrorism and conflicts around the world.

19 March 2024