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UK police seize GBP466,000 from student son of former Moldovan PM

Monday, 11 February, 2019

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has confiscated almost half a million pounds from the son of Vladimir Filat, Moldova's disgraced former Prime Minister.

Filat is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence in Moldova for misappropriation of USD1 billion from three Moldovan banks. His 22-year-old son, Vlad Luca Filat, now lives and studies in London, where he has led an 'extravagant lifestyle', said the NCA, spending significant sums of money on luxury goods and services. This included a GBP200,000 Bentley Bentayga bought from a Mayfair dealership, and a flat in the prestigious Knightsbridge area, rented for GBP1,000 a day. He had no apparent UK income, and the NCA became suspicious about the source of his funds.

They obtained the records of three HSBC bank accounts controlled by Luca. These showed that his living expenses were funded by large deposits from overseas companies, mainly in Turkey and the Cayman Islands. The NCA also traced multiple cash deposits into UK bank branches, with nearly GBP100,000 paid in over one three-day period.

In May 2018, the NCA obtained a court order freezing the accounts, under the forfeiture provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017. They alleged that the funds derived from Vladimir Filat's illegal activities.

Under the Criminal Finance Act, it was then up to Luca to demonstrate that his money came from legitimate sources. He was unable to do so, and last week district judge Michael Snow at the City of London Magistrates Court granted forfeiture orders on the three frozen accounts, to the value of GBP466,321.72. Snow said he was 'satisfied on the balance of probabilities' that the cash was derived from Vladimir Filat's criminal conduct in Moldova.

Last month, the NCA used Criminal Finances Act powers to seize a GBP1.2 million diamond ring purchased at Harrods in 2011 by Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev. The NCA has already seized 49 items of jewellery worth more than GBP400,000 from an auction house in London where they were being valued for Mrs Hajiyeva's daughter, and is demanding that she explains the source of the funds used to buy their Knightsbridge mansion and golf club in Berkshire, with a combined value of more than GBP22 million.