Published: 00:01, 08 December 2017
A builder who allowed his bank accounts to be used by criminals for money laundering in an internet scam has been jailed for two and a half years.
Ashokumar Jude had more than £350,000 from fraud deposited into the accounts but one victim managed to stop £336,000 of the amount being withdrawn.
The 46-year-old, of St Gregory’s Crescent, Gravesend, denied money laundering but was convicted by a jury.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the major victim, Interaction Hotel Ltd, was sent a false email stating that a payment by their main contractor had failed and gave new details for another bank account.
The money was then paid into Jude’s account. But prompt action by a hotel director stopped the £336,000 leaving their account.
Another £16,000 defrauded was, however, successfully withdrawn from Jude’s account.
Adrian Rohard, defending, said the Sri Lankan father-of-four moved to Kent from London after being made bankrupt in 2000.
Jude, he said, had performed a limited role under direction in committing the offence where “dark forces were at work”. “Him going to prison will result in significant disruption,” said Mr Rohard. “I ask to take a merciful and compassionate stance.”
He had been building an extension at the family home and his wife would not be able to pay for it, he added.
But Judge Adele Williams said Jude “deliberately took the risk” when committing the crime.
“There was some sophistication about it,” she said. “You created false invoices. There was no attempt to conceal your crimes. You made an attempt to blame the bank manager.
“You found yourself in financial difficulties in 2013 and that is why you attempted to engage in this dishonest behaviour.
“If it was not for those who undertake money laundering, then those engaged in fraud would find it more difficult to undertake their crimes.”
The prosecution sought a compensation order for £17,372, but the judge was told there were no realisable assets. Jude was, therefore, ordered to pay a nominal £1.
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