Crooked courier jailed after £776k in dirty cash found in Stevenage hotel room

PUBLISHED: 10:31 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 26 November 2018

Gabriel Verdes has been jailed for two years. Picture: HMRC.

Gabriel Verdes has been jailed for two years. Picture: HMRC.

Archant

A criminal cash courier has been jailed for two years for money laundering after being caught in a Stevenage hotel with more than £776,000 in dirty cash.

A suitcase stuffed with bags of cash was found in the wardrobe. Picture: HMRC.A suitcase stuffed with bags of cash was found in the wardrobe. Picture: HMRC.

Gabriel Verdes, who is from Moldova, flew into Stansted Airport on July 21, but was caught by officers from HM Revenue and Customs just eight days later with a stash of used notes hidden in his room at the Novotel in Stevenage Road.

Verdes had been seen leaving the hotel before returning with carrier bags full of cash.

During a search of his room, HM Revenue and Customs officers found £774,045 stuffed in carrier bags and hidden in a suitcase in the wardrobe.

After his arrest, Verdes was found to be carrying a further £2,695 in his rucksack.

Verdes was seen returning to the hotel with carrier bags full of cash. Picture: HMRC.Verdes was seen returning to the hotel with carrier bags full of cash. Picture: HMRC.

When questioned by investigators, the 30-year-old refused to comment or explain where any of the money had come from.

Paul Maybury, assistant director for the Fraud Investigation Service at HM Revenue and Customs, said: “Verdes was caught red-handed with bags full of cash.

“The money found in his room is the equivalent to the salaries of 33 new NHS nurses for an entire year.

“I urge anybody who knows of anyone handling large quantities of unexplained cash, or committing any type of tax fraud, to report it to HM Revenue and Customs online or call our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”

HMRC officers found more than £776k in used notes in Verdes' hotel room. Picture: HMRC.HMRC officers found more than £776k in used notes in Verdes' hotel room. Picture: HMRC.

Verdes had pleaded not guilty to entering into a money laundering arrangement contrary to section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 at St Albans Crown Court on August 31, but following a trial was found guilty at Cambridge Crown Court on November 16.

He was jailed for two years on the same day he was found guilty.

Money laundering is the act of concealing the transformation of profits from illegal activities and corruption into ostensibly “legitimate” assets, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.

On Thursday last week, the dirty money was forfeited to the Crown following a hearing at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court.

Several carrier bags stuffed with bundles of used notes were found. Picture: HMRC.Several carrier bags stuffed with bundles of used notes were found. Picture: HMRC.

Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HM Revenue and Customs online at gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.

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