A man from Ilford is on the run after a money laundering operation worth £50 million was uncovered when wads of cash worth more than £100,000 were found in his car.
Abdul Fahad, 41, of Meads Lane, Ilford, was arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency in 2018 after the bundles of cash were found in his car.
Fahad was charged with multiple money laundering offences after further cash was discovered at his home, alongside evidence of frequent and suspicious trips to the United Arab Emirates.
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Initially, Fahad told the NCA that the cash seized had come from life savings, as well as from the sale of property and stocks.
He also stated that he was a sole trader dealing in cars and that he intended to cash the money into a bank in order to buy a car.
However, the NCA’s investigation discovered that Fahad was in regular contact with a notorious money launderer named Sathar Khan, who was jailed in 2018 when he attempted to board a flight to Dubai with almost £1.5 million in cash in his suitcases.
Officers linked Fahad and Khan through messages recovered from Fahad’s phone, including one showing a handwritten note detailing a schedule of dates for travel to Dubai between himself and Khan.
It was revealed that between 2017 and 2018, the two men made nearly 200 return flights to Dubai.
Both frequently returned with significantly lighter luggage than what they flew out with.
In that period, Fahad left the UK with an extra 379kg in his luggage, the NCA investigators estimate, an equivalent to approximately £5 million in cash.
Messages uncovered on Fahad’s phone also detailed conversations with another potential cash courier, with one message reading: “Giv me some work too…so I can earn too.”
The messages revealed that Fahad and Khan discussed sending two money couriers per day on money laundering runs during July and August 2018.
According to money laundering experts, had this been successful, up to £50 million could have been moved out of the UK in that time period alone.
Fahad appeared before Southwark Crown Court in September this year, where he pleaded guilty to three charges of money laundering.
He was granted bail but later absconded and is now wanted by the NCA.
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He was sentenced to eight years in prison on December 16 in his absence.
Appealing for information on his whereabouts, National Crime Agency operations manager Jason Hulme said: “Fahad was at the heart of a multi-million-pound money laundering conspiracy, moving cash which would have been derived from serious and organised crime in the UK and internationally.
“We are seeking information on his whereabouts in order that he is made to serve his prison sentence. We believe he could be in East London, particularly around the Ilford or East Ham area and has connections to Dubai and Sri Lanka.
“Anyone with information should report to the NCA Control Centre on 0370 496 7622 quoting Operation Blissless or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
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