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, from Croydon, and Chandrasekar Nallayan, 44, of Swaffham, Norfolk, were sentenced on 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 worked with the Cyber Defence Alliance (CDA) to investigate. Officers traced these IP addresses to properties in the Croydon area.
On 2 May 2019, Krishnasamy was arrested, and 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. 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, with a total value 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 2020 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.
Krishnasamy was sentenced to five years and nine months, Nallayan to seven years.
DC Milena Bingley, from the Met’s 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.”
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.”