Ussama El-Kurd, aged 65, of Lynwood Road, Ealing, who operated the Kensington Money Exchange and was responsible for ‘cleaning’ around £200m in dirty money, was sentenced at the Old Bailey after previously pleading guilty to money laundering offences.
A Serious Organised Crime Agency investigation based around the activity of the money exchange uncovered the conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime.
On 6 July 2010, a criminal associate of El-Kurd was seen entering the money exchange with a large holdall. A short time later he was seen to re-visit the premises, leaving with a much smaller bag which a search revealed to contain nearly a quarter of a million Euros in high denomination notes. El-Kurd was arrested the same day and over half a million in numerous currencies was recovered.
Further enquiries revealed that the money exchange had purchased in excess of 240 million Euros from foreign exchange wholesalers in a little over three years, but the business could only show £5m passing though the corporate accounts. In total, financial investigators estimated that around £200 million had passed through the exchange, without any records or official accounts being kept.
Brendan Foreman, SOCA Regional Head of Investigations, said:
“El Kurd was responsible for providing a bespoke money laundering service to his criminal associates that has seen hundreds of millions of illicit money concealed from the authorities, repatriated overseas or reinvested almost certainly to fund transnational crime. His victims have been the general public, many of whom will have been harmed, in one way or another, by the crimes of those he chose to represent.
“This was no legitimate business venture, it was simply an enterprise designed to enable criminals to prosper while living lives of luxury in foreign jurisdictions. El Kurd has personally profited and the considerable assets he managed to accrue will now be pursued through the courts.
SOCA press release link: click here