At the end of November 2021 sentencing concluded at Southwark Crown Court in respect of three defendants convicted in the summer of 2021 of being organisers of a £25m money laundering fraud. William Hughes QC, leading Ini Udom of 5 St Andrews Hill, prosecuted a total of three trials from autumn 2019 to the summer of 2021 in respect of an HMRC investigation known as Operation Surging. William was involved the case at an early stage, which dated back to 2013-2014. William advised on all aspects of this large and complex case. The trial proceedings had been subject to reporting restrictions until conclusion of the organisers’ sentences after the conclusion of trial three.

It was the Prosecution case that a UK-wide network of shell companies were created by the organisers of the fraud through which the proceeds of non-duty paid alcohol, that had been smuggled from continental Europe, were laundered. The case was exceedingly complex and wide-ranging, involving a labyrinthine network of ‘shell’ companies created specifically for laundering the proceeds of crime. These companies were used to transfer the laundered funds through further companies with complex financial histories in order to present a veneer of legitimacy. A total of 24 individuals faced money laundering charges as a result of the investigation.

The organisers Santokh Bharj, Avtar Mann and Mandeep Dhillon were sentenced to 7 years 3 months, 5 years 8 months and 4 years imprisonment respectively by HHJ Hopmeier.

William was instructed by Alistair Dickson of CPS SCD.