11 July 2024

NCA recovers funds in litigation involving lottery winner, a bomb plot and fraud

11 July 2024

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has recovered around £1 million in the latest legal step of a probe into an organised crime group linked to a lottery winner, a bomb plot and a £55 million tax fraud.

Investigators have spent 13 years looking at the activities of Jonathan Nuttall and associated companies and individuals, revealing a complex payroll fraud and global money laundering scheme, a judge was told.

On Thursday, the High Court heard that the NCA had reached the tail end of its legal bids to recover “the proceeds of criminal activity” after settlements were reached.

James Laddie KC, for the agency, told the hearing in London that an investigation into Nuttall started in 2011 and led to a civil recovery claim being brought against his wife Amanda Nuttall and others.

Nuttall was not a defendant because he had ensured that property was held in the others’ names, the barrister said.

The businessman was jailed in September last year after being found guilty of orchestrating a bomb plot against lawyers involved in the NCA litigation.

He conspired with others to plant two devices in London’s legal district after becoming upset at the prospect of losing his stately home, Embley Manor in Romsey, Hampshire, and over the seizure of assets worth £1.4 million, the Old Bailey previously heard.

Mrs Nuttall, who won £2.4 million on the lottery the first time she bought a ticket, agreed in 2019 to pay the NCA £1.4 million as part of a legal settlement.

But the NCA discovered the settlement money was “not legitimately obtained funds”, with the agency pursuing another recovery order.

In 2020, a further recovery claim was issued against companies controlled by Gregory Candy-Wallace, an associate of Nuttall, who was involved in a money-laundering network, the judge was told.

Mr Laddie told the hearing that the claims had been “disposed of by consent”, adding that there had been no criminal proceedings in relation to money laundering.

The barrister claimed that the settlements saw defendants agree to property being recovered by the NCA which amounted to a “formal acknowledgement” that it was the “proceeds of crime”.

In written arguments, Mr Laddie said the property “represents the proceeds of a payroll fraud” where around £55 million was “diverted” from HMRC.

He added: “The proceeds of the fraud were subsequently laundered through an international money laundering network involving accounts in… Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia.

“The payroll fraud and the money laundering were carried out by an organised crime group (OCG) in which Mr Nuttall… and Mr Candy-Wallace were involved.”

Mr Laddie said the “deliberate and organised” scheme featured “inducements to secure clients” and a “lack of proper record keeping”.

It seems extraordinary that the banks were so lackadaisical about it

“Members of the organised crime group were therefore involved in unlawful conduct being the fraudulent evasion of income tax, cheating the revenue, fraudulent trading and failing to prevent the facilitation of UK tax evasion offences,” he claimed.

Mr Laddie said that through an agreement in the claim involving Mrs Nuttall, the NCA would recover her original settlement sum and Embley Manor.

The litigation targeting Mr Candy-Wallace has also seen settlements that included the agency recovering nearly £2 million from various bank accounts.

On Thursday, the NCA’s successful bid for recovery orders over £1.07 million in three further bank accounts of dissolved companies was unopposed, with neither Nuttall, his wife nor Mr Candy-Wallace represented at court.

Mr Laddie said in written arguments that one of the accounts was linked to a company recorded by its bank as a “Chinese takeaway”, which was “not consistent with its apparent involvement in payroll outsourcing”.

In court he said “vast sums” had gone in and out of accounts, adding: “It seems extraordinary that the banks were so lackadaisical about it.”

In his ruling, Mr Justice Julian Knowles observed that some tax was previously paid to HMRC “to provide a veneer of respectability to stop the red flag going up”.

The judge, who said the litigation involved more than 10,000 pages of material, concluded that he was satisfied that the three accounts were part of the “unlawful” payroll and money-laundering schemes and contained the proceeds of crime that could be recovered.

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