Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 15:44 UK

Prosecutors net 6.5m crime cash

The cash will be invested in community projects around Scotland

A Moscow-based businessman has had £6.5m seized by Scottish prosecutors in the country's largest ever recovery under Proceeds of Crime legislation.

Anatoly Kazachkov, 64, was connected to a suspicious bank transfer of $10m from an account in Hungary to a Scottish bank in 2004.

The cash was seized after a probe by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) and the Crown Office.

It will be invested in community projects around Scotland.

The initial investigation began after information was received by the SCDEA.

The Civil Recovery Unit at the Crown Office then used Proceeds of Crime legislation to have the money restrained.

The Scottish Money Laundering Unit then carried out international inquiries to trace the source of the funds.

This three-year investigation led our officers to make inquiries in a number of countries across Europe and beyond
Dep Ch Con Gordon Meldrum

The trail led to Russia where, with the assistance of the Russian authorities, further evidence of false documents and stolen identities was uncovered.

Anatoly Kazachkov and others provided an "audit trail" which appeared to give a legitimate source of the funds.

This was discredited, however, after Scottish and Russian investigators connected the cash to a Russian bank, which was bankrupted in 2004 in relation to money laundering offences.

The case was passed to the Civil Recovery Unit in 2008 to investigate whether the money could be retrieved through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

'International co-operation'

A recovery order was made last month and the funds were released to the Crown Office on Wednesday.

The Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini QC, said: "This case not only highlights the successful collaboration between the Civil Recovery Unit and Scottish law enforcement agencies, but also the effective international co-operation secured from the Russian authorities.

"Financial crime undermines legitimate hard-working businesses and threatens the future stability of our economic growth.

"The dedicated specialists in our Civil Recovery Unit will continue to use the legislation to ensure that unlawfully obtained assets are recovered and the proceeds used directly to benefit our communities across Scotland."

Dep Ch Con Gordon Meldrum, director general of the SCDEA, said the Proceeds of Crime legislation was "forcing individuals to pay for their criminal activity".

"What this particular case also demonstrates is our absolute determination to follow the money trail wherever it leads us," he said.

"This three-year investigation led our officers to make inquiries in a number of countries across Europe and beyond, and collaborative working practices with a range of law enforcement partners at home and abroad have undoubtedly contributed to this successful outcome.

"We are committed to making best use of the legislation and as an agency, we will continue to use whatever means we have at our disposal to make it harder for criminals to hide their illegal earnings."

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