The City of London Police made its biggest-ever UK money laundering seizure when officers arrested a 58-year-old man in possession of three banker's drafts worth a total of £30m ($43m). The police force believes that the funds were amassed by a "global network of organised crime operators" who used business accounts belonging to the suspect to launder the money.
Police arrested the man at his home near Bridgend, south Wales, on 21 April, on suspicion of money laundering. The force said he was in possession of banker's drafts, worth $8.8m (£6.1m), £315,000 and €30.7m (£24.1m). He is currently being questioned at a local police station.
The police force say that these cheques are the result of a complicated global crime network that used the man's account to channel illicit funds through the UK. Some of the cash is believed to have been made by so-called Ponzi schemes (where investors are promised huge financial returns that never arise) or on foreign exchange markets.
The arrest was the result of an investigation that was launched in March this year after receiving intelligence that a UK bank account was being used to launder money. The City of London Police Fraud Squad is a specialist department that takes on much of the UK's financial fraud.
Their investigation led them to a test drilling company that had an annual turnover of around £250,000. Police say that in November last year $19m (£13.2m) was put into the company account, then converted into Euros via an intermediary foreign exchange company.
The majority of the funds were then sent to Georgia, on the southern borders of Russia. Then in February this year a further €37m (£29.1m) was transferred into the same account with the suspect claiming the funds were for the purchase of a Sri Lankan tea company.
Detective Inspector Craig Mullish, from the City of London Police's Money Laundering Unit, said: "We believe this man's business account was being used by a global network of organised crime operators to launder tens of millions of pounds of stolen funds through the UK and then out into bank accounts around the world. His arrest and the massive money seizure is further evidence of how banks and law enforcement are working very closely together to take criminal proceeds out of the UK economy."