Ex-cabbie from Wolverhampton guilty over £9m dirty money plot
A former taxi driver has been warned he faces a long time behind bars after being convicted of involvement in a £9 million money laundering racket.
Nardeep Sodhi wept in the dock at Wolverhampton Crown Court when the jury unanimously found him guilty of being part of the conspiracy.
He was remanded in custody for sentence in February after Judge Simon Ward refused a request for the 34-year-old to have bail over Christmas.
The judge explained: “He has lied and lied and lied. I do not trust him to be sensible and come to court for the sentencing hearing. This is serious organised crime and he has lied about his involvement.”
He told the defendant, from Waterside Close, Blakenhall: “You are looking at a very long prison sentence. You have been involved in serious crime with serious criminals.”
A second defendant, Jagdish Brar, aged 58, of Hill Street, Wellingborough, was found guilty of the same offence after being tried in his absence. It was discovered he had skipped bail and fled to India in February but the jury was not told this until after his conviction.
The two men will be sentenced with two other members of the gang – Jitender Sidhu and Harminder Singh – who pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to acquire or control criminal property, namely cash between January 1 2013 and May 14 2015.
The money laundering ring was smashed by West Midlands Police who seized around £240,000 cash in a series of swoops on May 13, triggering a near two year investigation into the racket which landed the defendants in court two years later.
Officers grabbed £60,000 from Singh moments after it had been handed to him in a bag by Sidhu in a street after the men got from their cars in the Parkfields area of Wolverhampton, close to where Sidhu lived. Singh was stopped as he drove away from the scene.
Four hours later Sidhu was stopped while at the wheel of in his car but this time Sodhi was sitting in the front passenger seat with £39,990 in a carrier bag at his feet whilst Brar was in the back of the vehicle. Both Singh and Brar had travelled from their homes in Northamptonshire for the hand overs.
Police then searched the Parkfields home of Sidhu where they found tell tale notes, diaries and details of text messages along with a further £140,000 hidden in a holdall and a couple of containers. The money was in bundles of £10 and £20 notes.
Investigators believe that the operation was masterminded from overseas. Somebody using a Dutch telephone number co-ordinated the first transfer foiled by police while a phone with an Indian number was at the heart of the second.
The subsequent investigation discovered that the gang used bank notes as ‘tokens’ to prove the identity of those involved in the exchanges of money.
A series of numbers were sent by text message to those involved. They included the amount involved and the serial number of a bank note which was handed by the recipient to the carrier as proof of identity. The cash courier then kept the bank note as a ‘receipt’ to show the hand over had been successfully completed.
Officers found notes referring to 250 transfers that totalled £9,714145, the court heard.
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