News Business Crime & Financial Services 6th Mar 2020

Acquittal of Spanish model in Ministry of Defence money laundering

Fiona Robertson secured the unanimous acquittal of a Spanish national accused of laundering the proceeds of a fraud committed on the Ministry of Defence.

In 2015 a computer network linked to the Ministry of Defence’s payment system was manipulated by a corrupt RAF Clerk resulting in salaries for 55 personnel being diverted to mule accounts. The defendant, whose bank details were found on the clerk’s mobile phone, received almost £10,000 of dishonestly obtained money in six payments marked “HMG”. Within 24 hours of the money moving into her account it was sent to a third party to be withdrawn in cash and used to effect large foreign currency exchanges for which the defendant’s ID was produced. Immediately after these transactions the defendant reported her debit card stolen and subsequently travelled to Spain.

The defendant at the time was a 21 year old model studying in London. The prosecution asserted the defendant only had £1.67 in her account prior to these events and that the diverted sums far exceeded any legitimate money she had access to. The defence were able to show this was inaccurate and that at each stage of the case she had sought to assist the bank and police with the investigation.

The defendant asserted her ex-boyfriend, a former footballer in Belgium, had used her as an innocent dupe after claiming the money was for an advance rent payment which he could not process as he did not have a bank account. She denied making any of the tester ATM withdrawals or debit card transactions and claimed that her ex-boyfriend must have stolen her debit card and ID.

After a week long trial at Southwark Crown Court the defendant was unanimously acquitted.

Fiona was instructed by Peter Hughman of Hughmans solicitors.

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