A 36-year-old man who remains on the run after being convicted two years ago for his role in a complex money laundering enterprise has been ordered to pay back more than £480,000.
A confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act was made in respect of Saqub Malik at Bristol Crown Court on Monday (December 7).
Following a trial in 2018, Malik, of St Peters Close, Hall Green, Birmingham, along with a second man Kamran Ahmed, then 25, of Westbury-on-Trym, were convicted of conspiracy to launder criminal funds.
Malik failed to attend his sentencing hearing where he was given a four-and-a-half year prison term in his absence. Ahmed was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
The convictions followed an investigation which uncovered the use of precious metals such as gold bullion and platinum from the UK, Europe and the Middle East to launder the proceeds of crime.
The pair recruited someone to set up a company called W A Trading Ltd. This company was a shell company, meaning a company that exists only on paper, having no real office or employees. Bank accounts were opened in the name of W A Trading and these accounts were used to launder hundreds of thousands of pounds of criminal money. Accounts in the name of W A Trading received nearly £400,000 within the first few days of operating.
The hearing on Monday heard how Malik benefitted from his crimes to the tune of almost £700,000. He was ordered to pay back over £480,000 currently held in bank accounts under his control and, should he fail to pay the money back, he will have to serve a three-year prison sentence in addition to his original sentence.
Financial Investigator Shelley Barker said: “Saqub Malik used complex money laundering methods involving gold bullion and shell businesses in attempts to conceal the substantial profits he was making through his criminal enterprise.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure such individuals are not able to live off their ill-gotten gains.
“Malik remains at large, having failed to attend his own sentencing hearing, and there is a warrant out for his arrest.
“We hope the successful application for this POCA confiscation order sends a clear warning to everyone that crime does not pay and that deliberately evading the criminal justice system will not deter us from forfeiting money and assets that represent the proceeds of crime.”