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SVG assists in successful probe of UK fraudster

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Fri, Mar 20, 2015

St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and the United Kingdom (UK), through collaborative efforts of various agencies secured a confiscation order against Joseph Murphy, a UK national in the sum of £606,678.90.{{more}}

Through an asset sharing agreement, the sum of EC$100,000 was remitted to the authorities of SVG for the role played in the investigation, prosecution and subsequent confiscation of the assets of Murphy. The sum of EC$100,000 represents 50 per cent of the assets held in a financial institution in SVG.

From 2004-2010, Joseph Murphy and co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud. Murphy was implicated in the theft of approximately 1.5 million pounds from Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom. The said monies were believed to have been laundered through the First Curacao Bank and various other institutions. Two accounts at Barclays Bank were targeted in the fraud with the involvement of dishonest staff at the Bank, who have also been prosecuted and convicted as co-defendants in this case. The targeted accounts were largely dormant, but held large credit balances. Funds were transferred from targeted accounts to the fraudulent accounts with the assistance of his co-defendant, a former employee of Barclays Bank. The funds were then transferred to various accounts at First Curacao Bank.

Murphy was arrested in 2006 and received bail. He was ordered to return to police custody on December 11, 2007, but failed to return. It was later determined through investigations that Murphy had fled the United Kingdom and had gone to Dubai and then the United States. In 2009, while still at large, Murphy, in an effort to evade law enforcement, changed his name by Deed Poll to Lewis-Mullen to avoid arrest and prosecution. Murphy then utilized new identification documents to open accounts in the United States in the name of Joseph Lewis-Mullen.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has been monitoring the conduct of Murphy and has been working with the appropriate authorities locally and in the United Kingdom in this investigation.

Investigations of the FIU have determined that Murphy, in June 2006, opened a private bank account with a Bank registered in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. On his banking application form he stated that he was the owner and director of SAS Fire and Security Ltd, a home security firm based in the United Kingdom. Investigations further revealed that as part of the account opening process, Murphy produced bank references from Barclays and HSBC, which were later identified as fraudulent. When asked to clarify these issues, he refused and demanded that his deposit be returned. The FIU promptly notified the authorities in the United Kingdom of Murphy’s activities in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) Request sent in accordance with Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, CAP 177 of the Revised Laws of 2009 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’), the United Kingdom sought assistance to register a confiscation order that was obtained against Murphy on November 28, 2013.

The aim of this Act is to improve effectiveness of law enforcement authorities of both countries in the investigation, prosecution and prevention of crime through cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. Requests under the Act are sent directly to the Attorney General, who then forwards them to the FIU to execute. The FIU, in providing assistance to the UK, have acted in accordance with the terms of the MLAT Request and in compliance with the terms of the Act.

As such, the authorities in SVG, and in particular the FIU, have been commended for the assistance and cooperation given in this matter. SVG-FIU expresses its gratitude to the United Kingdom and pledges enhanced cooperation in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and transnational organized crime. SVG-FIU urges financial institutions and relevant businesses to continue being vigilant in their operations, as they are at the forefront of this fight.

A long history of cooperation exists between SVG and the UK and is evident in the efforts promulgated by agencies such as Caribbean Criminal Recovery of Assets Programme (CCARP) and Department for International Development (DFID) that are resident within the region. SVG will continue to partner with the UK and other regions around the world in taking the profit out of crime.(Contributed by the FIU)

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