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Money laundering prevention expert convicted of financial crimes

News   •   Jun 24, 2021 13:20 BST

[Dominic Thorncroft]

A money laundering prevention expert has found guilty of financial crimes after failing to disclose financial information at his own company.

Appearing at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, 23 June, Dominic Thorncroft, the former chairperson of the Association of UK Payment Institutions (AUKPI) for 14-years, and a company director of a money service business (MSB) and the company’s Money Laundering Regulation Officer (MLRO), was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of committing the following six offences:

- Failing to submit a suspicious activity report (SAR), (contrary to section 330 & 334 of POCA);
- Four counts of retaining unlawful credit (contrary to section 24A(1) and (6) of the Theft Act 1968);
- One offence of breaching Money Laundering Regulations (contrary to regulation 45 of the MLR).

Thorncroft, 56 (19.09.64) of Chelsfield Lane, Orpington, was found not guilty of money laundering.

He was bailed and will be sentenced at the same court on 30 July.

Thorncroft's trial started on Tuesday, 1 June.

The investigation into Thorncroft began in June, 2016, after officers executed a search warrant at the offices of his MSB company, based in Peckham.

A laptop used by the defendant was seized and on it officers found the contents that showed the MSB had received money from over 60 individuals who were defrauded.

Officers discovered that between late July and late October 2014, over 60 victims paid out a total of nearly £850,000 after being contacted over the phone by a 'salesman' who persuaded them to invest in a money-making scheme of some sort. The type of scheme was not always the same, but what all the money-making schemes had in common was that they did not exist.

All of the fraudulent money was credited to the bank accounts of the MSB that Thorncroft was a director of.

Most of the money was then transferred out of Thorncroft's account and onto the fraudsters based in Hong Kong and China.

As part of the Met's Economic Crime Team's investigation, officers were confident that the money that was received into the bank account was then transferred out of the UK and it was the proceeds of the criminal conduct.

Thorncroft was known to have met with one of the fraud suspects as well as having a copy of the suspect’s passport. He failed to disclose this information to the police in 2014. Consequently, he was found guilty of failing to submit a SAR as he was under a legal obligation to report suspicious activity.

Thorncroft was also found guilty of retaining monies belonging to four of the victims which totalled approximately £16,000.

The one count of breaching Money Laundering Regulations relates to a separate transfer in February 2016. That transfer involved a person who was subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order which prohibited them from remitting money overseas. The transfer in question was £265,000.

It wasn't until 3 April, 2019, that officers interviewed Thorncroft under caution. He was further interviewed under caution on 30 April and 14 May that year.  

It was on 7 May, 2020, that officers were able to charge Thorncroft with the offences.

Detective Sergeant Mark Hoddinott, from the Central Specialist Crime Command (Economic Crime), said at conviction: "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.

“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.

"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."