Fraudsters convicted of 1.8 million money laundering scam sent to prison

Monday 4 March 2013

A pair convicted of a £1.8 million international money laundering scam have been jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Fraudsters Richard Housley, 57, and Caroline Laing, 55, were caught following an eight-year long investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.

Prosecutors said they are guilty of money laundering and fraud "on an industrial scale" after their sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh.

An arrest warrant has been issued for their associate Michael Voudouri who has admitted money laundering worth £11.6 million and who failed to appear at court.

Housley, from Edinburgh, was jailed for four years and Laing, from Denny in Falkirk, was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Lindsey Miller, head of the serious and organised crime unit at the Crown Office, said: "After an extremely complex investigation, today we have seen justice delivered to individuals who participated in money laundering and fraud on an industrial scale.

"The investigation into their crimes has spanned the globe, with our economic crime unit gathering evidence from companies and financial institutions in the UK, Greece, Cyprus, Switzerland, the United States and the British Virgin Islands.

"This case powerfully demonstrates the ability of our specialist units to prosecute cases of the utmost scale and complexity and bring to justice all those who seek to benefit from crime."

Operation Frizz looked at cash crimes committed by the pair mainly between 2001 and 2005. Officers analysed the trading patterns and business practices of around 20 companies, many with multimillion-pound annual turnovers.

The inquiry established that the funds laundered originated from complex "missing trader intra-community" fraud, also known as carousel VAT fraud, involving a number of firms in the UK and Ireland.

It hits the UK Treasury as it repays an "input" tax to traders exporting goods from the UK but will be unable to recover the VAT due from the missing trader.