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Gravesend internet cafe Benson Logistics used to launder £1.3m, court told


An internet cafe in Gravesend was one of two used by a businessman to allegedly launder more than £1.3million, a court heard.

Peter Oyewor owned and managed Benson Logistics, in Manor Road, from where he worked as a Western Union money transfer agent.

His job involved him arranging the sending and receiving of money both abroad and into the UK on behalf of customers.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court heard such practices are regulated by strict legal procedures, including mandatory identification checks.

But the 49-year-old was said to have repeatedly "flouted the rules" while knowing or at least suspecting the money he was transferring came from crime.

A police investigation revealed between July and September 2010, Oyewor received 98 money transfers at Benson Logistics, totalling £97,000.

However, it is alleged £92,700 of those transfers were conducted using false passport details.

Oyewor, of Grieves Road, Gravesend, ran a second Internet cafe, Abmec Logistics in Plumstead, south east London, from where he also worked as a Western Union agent.

Between 2007 and 2010 he received 1,478 transfers with a total value of just more than £1.4million.

But the jury was told £1.25million of those transfers were again conducted using false identification details.

It is alleged that instead of the money being physically handed over to legitimate customers, Oyewor made up "phantom" customers and then simply forwarded the money electronically to another country.

Many of the transfers originated from the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe and were then mostly forwarded to Africa.

Maidstone crown court
Maidstone crown court

Peter Oyewor is on trial at Maidstone Crown Court

Oyewor denies transferring criminal property between July 2007 and September 2010.

Lucy Kennedy, prosecuting, said a money transfer agent prepared to move money around the globe was "very useful" to the criminal fraternity.

"That, the Crown say, was the very useful role played by Peter Oyewor. We do not say he was engaged in the crimes which generated the financial amounts in the first place.

"We do not say he was a fraudster, a drug trafficker... but what we do say is that what he was doing was permitting many, many transfers of funds and did so allowing the rules to be flouted.

"What we say he was doing was deliberately allowing funds he suspected to be criminal funds to come into the UK and then forwarding these sums onto other countries."

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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