Two men have been jailed for a total of 12 years and nine months following an international £2.4 million money laundering operation and attempt to launder a further £1.6 million.
Following an investigation by the Met’s Economic Crime Unit, Vijaya Kumar Krishnasamy, 32, (19.04.88), of Godstone Mount, Downs Court Road, CR8, and Chandrasekar Nallayan, 44, (04.10.75) of Kendle Road, Swaffham, Norfolk, were sentenced on Friday, 29 May for money laundering and fraud offences around the world.
Croydon Crown Court heard that in 2018, police received a report from Barclays Bank that several IP addresses were repeatedly accessing multiple business accounts suspected of being utilised for money laundering.
Operation Palcalla was launched and officers from the Met’s Economic Crime Unit worked with the Cyber Defence Alliance (CDA), to investigate. Officers traced these IP addresses to properties in the Croydon area.
On 2 May 2019, a search warrant was executed at one of these addresses and Krishnasamy was arrested.
A search revealed hundreds of pages of documents relating to dozens of suspicious businesses and hundreds of bank accounts. His mobile phone contained thousands of images of him accessing various suspect accounts online or withdrawing cash from ATMs.
From the evidence on Krishnasamy’s mobile phone, Nallayan was identified as another suspect.
The court heard he was directing Krishnasamy as to where to transfer the criminal funds. Detectives discovered he owned or controlled ‘mule’ accounts that were being used to funnel the money through.
In total, 24 companies that were victim to the scam were identified from around the world.
They would receive a fraudulent email claiming to be from their client, who had previously invoiced them, informing them about a change of their bank account details.
The company, believing they were paying their genuine clients, transferred money to the suspect bank account. They wouldn’t know that they had been defrauded until their real client started chasing the payment.
By that time, the majority of money in these suspected 'mule' business accounts was transferred out of the UK and couldn’t be recovered.
There were 16 victims who made actual payment of funds into these ‘mule’ accounts. The total value of those transfers was in excess of £2.4 million.
The other eight victims realised that the emails were not genuine, and reported the suspicious emails to their bank or the police. Had these attempts been successful, the victims would have lost close to another £1.6 million.
Krishnasamy entered a guilty plea on Tuesday, 11 February to conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property between 1 February 2018 and 1 May 2019.
He admitted to having access to the relevant ‘mule’ accounts via online banking, monitoring these accounts, and transferring funds as directed. He knew that the funds were the proceeds of crime.
Nallayan pleaded not guilty to conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property between 1 February 2018 and 1 May 2019.
He was convicted for all offences after a trial that took place at Croydon Crown Court.
Both were sentenced on Friday, 29 May at Croydon Crown Court. Krishnasamy was sentenced to five years and nine months. Nallayan was sentenced to seven years.
Detective Constable Milena Bingley, from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime - Economic Crime Unit, said: “This shameless pair have caused untold distress and worry to their victims. This case shows that those responsible for money laundering will be tracked down and face up to their crimes.
“We will work closely with the banking industry to target organised criminal networks. This conviction should be a warning to those who believe they can benefit from money laundering, and get away with it.
“This was a complicated case and I would like to thank our partners in the banking sector and the Cyber Defence Alliance for their support and assistance during this investigation.”
Steven Wilson, CEO of the Cyber Defence Alliance, said: “The Cyber Defence Alliance (CDA) were delighted to work with the MPS on Op Palcalla, a first class excellent example of public private partnerships being used to tackle those organised criminal networks targeting the financial sector, their customers and using money muling networks to cash out their criminal gains. The CDA were able to undertake background investigations with their member banks, identify significant criminal activity and provide the MPS with actionable intelligence that led to the arrest and conviction of a prolific criminal and the disruption of his criminal network.”
A Barclays Bank spokesperson, said: “We continue to be committed to supporting law enforcement in its efforts to combat criminality and protect customers’ funds.
“We worked with the Metropolitan Police Service during its investigation and welcome the outcome of the proceedings.”