Royal Docks fraudsters jailed after laundering £70m
- Credit: NCA
Two Newham fraudsters who headed up an international criminal network have been jailed for 33 years after laundering £70 million.
Artem Terzyan, 38, from Russia and Deivis Grochiatskij, 44, from Lithuania, were the focus of a four-year investigation by the Organised Crime Partnership (OCP), made up of the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service unit.
Their sentences are believed to be some of the largest ever handed down for money laundering in the UK.
Andy Tickner from the OCP said: “These men and their network played a vital role in enabling other criminals to conceal and access their illicit earnings.
"The removal of this service will have been a massive blow to organised criminals in the UK and globally."
The OCP’s investigation began in October 2017 when surveillance officers watched Auriel Zylyfi place a bag of cash in an Audi car at a money counting house in north west London.
One month later another man, Artur Terziu, was seen handing over £40,000 to Zylyfi in the underground carpark of his flat in Hazlemere Court in Hendon.
The men were arrested and each sentenced to a year in prison.
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OCP officers searched Zylyfi’s flat and seized a ledger detailing money laundering transactions in excess of £7m over a four-month period.
The same Audi travelled extensively around the country over the next seven months, stopping at lorry parks and service stations to collect cash before returning to London.
It was regularly driven to Munning House at Royal Docks in Newham where Terzyan and Grochiatskij lived in flats next door to each other.
On regular occasions, OCP officers witnessed large bags of cash being carried from the car into Munning House.
The two men and other members of the criminal network were observed opening bank accounts in the names of "bogus" companies they had set up.
They would deposit tens of thousands of pounds in the accounts at a time.
The money would be sent from one shell company to another in a complex web of transfers, before being sent to international accounts from countries including Germany, Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
On June 26 2018, OCP officers arrested Terzyan and Grochiatskij at Munning House and searched their flats.
They seized multiple hand-written ledgers which detailed the vast sums of laundered money, an encrypted phone, bank cards and account details of the fake companies.
On Grochiatskij’s seized computer officers found details of the bank accounts the pair used for laundering along with incriminating photos of associates handling cash in Grochiatskij’s living room.
Another photo showed a safe containing a huge pile of cash estimated to be worth up to £3m.
In the same photo was a notepad which had the address of a business unit by Waterfront Studios on Dock Road.
CCTV footage would later be recovered which showed the two men delivering the safe to the unit in February 2018.
But when it was searched eight months later, the money had been removed.
It is believed the pair had laundered a total of £36m in 2017/18, with £16m coming from cash deposits.
While on bail, they began exploiting the government’s Covid-19 support scheme by claiming fraudulent Bounce Back Loans (BBL) for the shell companies they had set up.
They claimed up to £50,000 each time, generating over £10m in total, with £3.2m claimed from one UK bank alone.
They continued to launder criminal cash. Between June 2018 and November 2020, when the pair were arrested again, they had laundered a further £34m including the £10m they generated from the BBLs.
Terzyan and Grochiatskij were found guilty following a seven-week trial in September 2021 and each charged with two counts of money laundering.
Earlier this month at Kingston Crown Court, Terzyan was sentenced to 17 years in prison and Grochiatskij to 16 years.
Details have only just been released, following the lifting of report restrictions previously in place.
The financial investigation into the two men is ongoing.
The OCP has obtained freezing orders on four bank accounts, which contained around £180,000 in total.
Of this, £17,000 has been forfeited and assessed as recoverable property.