Man who laundered $2.2m is sent to jail for five years
A man guilty of the largest money-laundering crime that’s ever come before the Bermuda courts is today beginning a five-year prison sentence.
Roger Cox used a network of 33 people to help him launder $2.2 million, which he earned from running illegal gambling dens.
The crime spanned a five-year period, from 2004 onwards.
When police searched Cox’s St George’s home and a bank deposit box, they found $708,560 cash he’d stashed away.
Jailing the 38-year-old yesterday, Chief Justice Richard Ground said: “The scale of this operation and length of time over which it was conducted takes this case out of the ordinary.”
He also jailed Michelle Lindsay, a 49-year-old former bookkeeper at Gibbons Financial Services, for assisting Cox launder $24,950 of his dirty money. She processed the cash through her own bank accounts, while suspecting it might be the proceeds of crime.
The pair had been friends for around 12 years.
Jailing Lindsay for four months, the judge told her: “There is a strong public interest in upholding the integrity of the financial sector and deterring those who would subvert it.
“In a very real sense, you and people like you represent the problem. As long as ordinary people are willing to carry out banking transactions for others in suspicious circumstances, without asking any questions, it will be easy for criminals to launder the proceeds of their crimes.”
During a court hearing last Friday, prosecutor Kirsty-Anne Kiellor explained that when police searched Cox’s home, which was fitted out using his illegal funds, they found $338,920 cash.
Some was hidden in bags and envelopes in a bedroom closet, some was tucked between clothing and some was stashed in the pump cupboard of Cox’s jacuzzi.
What the prosecutor described as “high value” jewellery was also seized during the search, and Cox was arrested on suspicion of money laundering.
Police then visited a bank deposit box he rented at the HSBC Compass Point branch. They found $369,640 inside.
Ms Kiellor did not explain how police came to investigate Cox, and the police did not respond to requests for further information yesterday.
Cox, who is married with three young children, admitted through defence lawyer John Perry QC that the cash came from illegal gambling dens he ran in addition to his legitimate air conditioning business.
He pleaded guilty in March to two charges of possessing cash that represented the proceeds of criminal conduct. He also admitted transferring or removing $1,579,296 from Bermuda, which was the proceeds of crime, to help avoid prosecution.
Ms Kiellor said Cox roped in other people to help launder the cash through methods including bank drafts, Western Union transfers, foreign currency purchases and carrying it out of Bermuda.
She said many were arrested and questioned and found to be “unwitting participants” who had no idea they were assisting in a criminal enterprise.
However, one of them was Lindsay, who was traced to the crime via her banking documents and arrested at her one-bedroom apartment in Devonshire.
Ms Kiellor said Lindsay was involved in “an elaborate attempt to disguise the evidence”, and knew what she was doing as she’d received training about money laundering through her job.
Lindsay admitted facilitating Cox in his retention or control of his proceeds of crime during the plea hearing in March.
A third person charged in the case, Sumaya Lambe, from St George’s, saw the charges dropped during the March hearing. None of the other people said to have assisted Cox in his money-laundering scheme have been brought before the courts.
Cox signed an order allowing the courts to confiscate $1.47 million in assets including the cash found in his home and bank box, jewellery and the contents of his bank accounts.
Shadow Minister of Finance Bob Richards welcomed the outcome of the case, saying it shows Bermuda is serious about prosecuting and convicting people guilty of money laundering.
“It’s a subversion of the financial system and as Bermuda is in the financial services business it’s a threat to everybody here; people’s employment and businesses,” he said.
“It’s a general threat, so it’s good that this guy has been caught and convicted. It’s also, I think, a warning to those who are in illegal trades who have to launder their money that the police and authorities are watching them and are prepared to hold them to account.”
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