Payback time for Midlands ‘casino’ money launderer
A professional gambler, who staked substantial sums of ‘dirty’ cash at casinos in Birmingham and London and at top horse racing meetings, has been ordered to repay criminal profits of nearly £2 million within six months or return to jail for ten years.
Birmingham man, Jatinder Singh Batth, also known as Micky Singh, was jailed for 18 months in March 2009 for money laundering offences following an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Singh was convicted after it was proved that he had laundered cash from organised crime gangs, including money from a £1.8m ‘missing trader’ VAT fraud (codenamed Op Elemi).
Richard Meadows, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), said:
“Batth’s activities ensured he was able to fund a luxurious lifestyle and further increase his wealth using funds derived from criminality. We will not stop in our pursuit to bring those involved in this type of criminal activity before the courts and reclaim their criminal profits for public funds.”
Assets belonging to Batth currently restrained and frozen by HMRC include:
- A 50 per cent share of the Coventry Stadium in Brandon, worth around £500,000
- A flat in St John’s Wood, London, worth over £1million
- A house in north London, worth over £120,000
- Various bank accounts
HMRC investigators uncovered the sophisticated money laundering plot during an investigation into a missing trader VAT fraud, Operation Elemi, which resulted in a total of eight men being jailed for nearly 34 years. Their trials showed the defendants received the proceeds of crime in the UK and had acted as couriers to launder hundreds of thousands of pounds by exploiting the gambling industry.
During the trials the court heard that money would be placed on deposit at casinos and withdrawn a day or so later. Other sums would be gambled. Thousands of pounds would be passed over the tables in order to disguise the original source of the banknotes. Monies gambled or exchanged at the casino provided the defendants with an apparently legitimate explanation as to their source.
In raids carried out across the West Midlands by HMRC investigation officers over £700,000 was seized. Around £200,000 was found in a residential property stashed in two holdalls. Additionally a further £150,000 was found stuffed in a Harrods carrier bag in a vehicle; Micky Singh claimed that this cash was his. All of the cash was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and has been reclaimed for the public purse. Some of the money was about or in the process of being laundered and some had just been laundered.
Forensic testing of some of the bank notes seized showed they were highly contaminated with heroin and cannabis. The results indicated such large amounts of cash could only become so polluted if they had been in contact with items or people significantly contaminated with drugs shortly before their seizure. The cash was in fact drugs money. It has since been returned to the issuing banks, including the Bank of England and Bank of Scotland, for destruction due to the high level of drugs contamination.