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Court sentence in multimillion fraud scheme

A massive money laundering case unfolded on Tuesday in a Swiss cantonal court where an Englishman, his wife and a financial adviser were found guilty in an elaborate multimillion-franc scheme.

The district court in the canton of Vaud sentenced the unidentified Englishman to a year in prison on charges of laundering nearly CHF7 million ($7.34 million), the Swiss News Agency reported. His wife and financial adviser were also convicted in the alleged scheme.

The 63-year-old man was also found guilty of forgery and received a fine along with his prison sentence, which was less than the two years the prosecutor requested. A clerk told swissinfo.ch that the court does not publish its rulings.

His wife received an eight-month prison sentence and a fine for taking part in obscuring funds. The Zurich-based financial adviser was found guilty of money laundering and forging securities, and was received a nine-month prison sentence and a fine.

The court reproached the adviser for helping the court buy a property in Montreux without questioning where the money came from. “He had to have serious doubts about the criminal origin of the funds used,” court president and magistrate Sandrine Osojnak was quoted as saying.

Swiss entanglement

The Englishman had been transferred to Switzerland from a British prison, where he was already serving a sentence for a scheme that brought him CHF92 million ($96.5 million), including some stolen money laundered in Switzerland.

He was convicted in 2001 in a British court on charges of using a network of European companies to make fake transactions for which he could be reimbursed for VAT overpayments – a so-called “carousel VAT” – and for concealing illicit funds from the British Treasury. He had set up a mobile phone business to carry out the scheme.

Osojnak noted that his wife “took over when her husband was imprisoned.” The husband also got a 12-year sentence for kidnapping a former accomplice for CHF400,000-franc ransom, but had fled from prison to take up residence in Switzerland, where he bought land and a house in Montreux along with luxury cars.

He was extradited four years later back to Britain to serve out the end of his sentence, but the case then led to charges being filed against him in the canton of Vaud.