Stratford man helped launder �40m of crime cash

A Stratford man helped to launder a �40million criminal fortune through a web of building society accounts, a court heard.

Liudvikas Steckis, 48, allegedly worked in league with married couple Constantine and Angelika Usichenko, both 39, Andrei Muska, 33, and boyfriend and girlfriend Svanjunis Stancius, 38, and Neda Seputyte, 33, Southwark Crown Court was told.

The Usichenko couple are said to have overseen the movement of illicit cash after nearly 100 accounts were opened using false Lithuanian passports.

Mark Fenhalls, prosecuting, said: “We say these defendants amongst them used false details and forged documentation to open a very large number of bank accounts, in particular with Nationwide Building Society but also with a number of high street banks.

“These accounts were set up to launder the proceeds of crime. There’s a huge amount of money circulating through [them]. There’s no proper lawful purpose to the volume of money passing backwards and forwards and round and round these many, many accounts.”

Mr Fenhalls told the court that transactions across the accounts showed “close to �40m” passing through.

“The prosecution can’t tell you precisely what crimes have been committed that generated these vast sums, but we do not have to prove what the crimes were.”

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Constantine Usichenko was said to have used a string of false identities and addresses controlled by the gang to open the accounts.

He allegedly operated a company called Nikita Ltd said to be “at the heart of the web of transactions”.

“We say he is the man furthest up the chain in this particular case,” said Mr Fenhalls, who described Angelika Usichenko as playing an “active role” in operating several accounts.

The prosecutor said Muska was also involved in the “opening and operation of fraudulent accounts”.

In addition, he and Constantine Usichenko are said to have used their own names and a string of false identities to buy and sell properties to launder cash.

Stancius, Seputyte and Steckis allegedly allowed accounts in their names to be used to funnel the cash.

The court heard the alleged money laundering was discovered by Nationwide staff after they queried the legitimacy of a Lithuanian passport used to request an overdraft in April 2010.

Constantine and Angelika Usichenko, both of Sylvan Avenue, Hornchurch, Andrei Muska, of no fixed abode, Stancius and Seputyte, both of Daniel Bolt Close, Poplar, and Steckis, of Caistor Park Road, Stratford, deny conspiracy to convert, conceal, disguise, transfer, or remove criminal property between November 2004 and September 2010.

Constantine Usichenko and Muska both deny a further count of conspiracy to convert, conceal, disguise, transfer or remove criminal property between February 2003 and September 2010.

The trial continues.