Dominic Thorncroft, a money laundering prevention expert, has been convicted of financial crimes for failing to disclose financial information at his own company, following a Metropolitan Police investigation.
Appearing at Southwark Crown Court on 23 June, Thorncroft was found guilty of failing to submit a suspicious activity report (SAR), (contrary to section 330 & 334 of POCA); of four counts of retaining unlawful credit (contrary to section 24A(1) and (6) of the Theft Act 1968); and one offence of breaching Money Laundering Regulations (contrary to regulation 45 of the MLR).
The money laundering specialist first came under investigation in June 2016 following the execution of a search warrant at Peckham offices of his MSB company, in which an investigation of a seized laptop revealed that the company had received money from over 60 defrauded individuals.
Between late July and late October 2014, the 60 victims paid out nearly £850,000 following a telephone discussion with a ‘salesman’ who persuaded them to invest in a non-existent money-making scheme.
The fraudulent money was credited to MSB bank accounts, directed by Thorncorft, and was then transferred onto Hong Kong and China-based fraudsters, and the former Company Director was known to have met with one of the fraud suspects as well as having a copy of the individual’s passport.
Thorncroft subsequently failed to disclose this information to the police in 2014, and was subsequently found guilty of failing to submit a SAR – a legal obligation to report suspicious financial activity – as well as for retaining money totalling around £16,000 belonging to four victims.
Lastly, the one count of breaching Money Laundering Regulations relates to a £265,000 transfer in February 2016 involving an individual who was subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order, prohibiting them from remitting money overseas.
“This was a really complex fraud investigation where a person with serious responsibilities and knowledge of the regulations around anti-money laundering failed in their duties to make the required disclosures to the authorities,” commented Detective Sergeant Mark Hoddinott, Central Specialist Crime Command (Economic Crime).
“If Thorncroft had complied with his own company policies then he would not have been prosecuted. Instead, he paid absolutely no regards to his overriding duty to anti-money regulations; consequently, many individuals suffered great financial loss and considerable personal trauma.
“In his role as the chairperson of AUKPI when these crimes were being committed by him, Thorncroft worked closely with law makers, regulators, banks and other financial institutions, representing the interests of the money remittance sector. The AUKPI provided its members with anti-money laundering training.”
Thorncroft is the former chairperson of the Association of UK Payment Institutions (AUKPI), having served in the role for 14 years, and at the time of his conviction was a company director and Money Laundering Regulation Officer (MLRO) of a money service business (MSB).
The defendant’s trial began on 1 June, and he has now been bailed and will face sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on 30 July.
DS Hoddinott added: “I’m really pleased that a dedicated team of Met officers investigating this case have secured this conviction, especially grateful to Detective Constable Silje Mikkelsen for her investigative tenacity and commitment to supporting the victims.
“I would also like to express my thanks and gratitude to the jury who I am sure at times found the case being presented before them complex and possibly confusing.
“This conviction is a reminder to those working in the regulated sector of their duties when it comes to money laundering regulations.”
The conviction follows the seizure last week by the Metropolitan Police of £114 million in cryptocurrency assets worth over £114 million, as part of a wider investigation into money laundering offences. The haul is thought to be the largest cryptocurrency seizure in British history as well as one of the biggest internationally.