In one of the first prosecutions of its kind, Bazyli Rymarz was found to be part of a group that moved money using crypto-currency ATM machines dotted around the UK.
He was arrested after he was caught driving a £130,000 Bentley Bentayga through the Port of Dover with 6,500 euros in a bag in 2020.
Kent Police’s Borders Investigation Unit then began looking into his group’s activities, which at that point was already the subject of a civil investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
Investigators have since estimated that Rymarz and the group he was part of laundered around £2million between September 2018 and January 2020.
Much of the money was moved out of Britain through bank accounts and by physically carrying cash on planes and across the Channel.
Crypto-currency ATM machines allow users to convert cash into cryptocurrencies and the lack of requirement for users to provide identification or record transactions has led to the machines becoming popular with criminals.
Investigators found that machines that Rymarz’s group were involved with were used by those behind frauds where victims were contacted and falsely told they owed money to British authorities. They paid money into the ATMs, only to later find out they had been scammed.
No evidence was found that Rymarz was personally involved in these frauds, but investigations showed the extent of his involvement in the group which laundered the criminal money.
In March 2019, he was caught with £10,500 in cash at Luton Airport. The money was seized and a civil investigation was initiated into the network he was part of.
Then in October 2019, a car he was driving at 120mph on the M6 in the Midlands was stopped for speeding. Cash totalling £38,000 and 13,600 euros was found in various places around the car.
He was arrested and released but stopped four months later, in January 2020, driving the Bentley, for which he was not insured, through the Port of Dover. He couldn’t explain the origin of the 6,500 euros found in his car.
His arrest in Dover led to his home address in Watford being searched and a further £5,400 and 8,200 euros in cash being found at the address.
Investigations found Rymarz was one of a number of men linked to a company called Wedso Ltd, which was registered in the UK. Despite the large amount of money moving through its machines, Wedso did not register for VAT and paid no corporation tax.
Cash was often split into multiple smaller amounts before being deposited into bank accounts, to avoid attracting attention.
Rymarz was charged with money laundering offences following the Dover arrest, but absconded abroad after being released on bail by a court in March 2020.
He was tracked down to Bologna, Italy and extradited to the UK after being convicted of being concerned in a money laundering arrangement between September 2018 and March 2020.
At Canterbury Crown Court on 16 December 2021, the 22-year-old was jailed for five years, nine months. The sentencing judge found he played a ‘significant, not leading’ role in the enterprise.
The judge also ordered that a £100,000 security that had been paid into court in relation to the case before Rymarz absconded should be forfeited.
On 2 November 2021, financial investigators from ERSOU successfully obtained Civil Forfeiture Orders totalling almost £500,000. This related to cash seizures and frozen bank account applications that had been obtained against this group alongside the criminal investigation. This included £358,240 in cash that was seized from a member of the group at Luton Airport in March 2019.
Detective Constable Kirsty Baker, Kent Police’s investigating officer, said: ‘The professional curiosity of officers at the Port of Dover, and a long-running and thorough investigation by police and partners, has led to the uncovering of the full extent of this criminal enterprise.
‘As part of the investigation, detectives in Kent Police have worked with partners in ERSOU, West Midlands Police, Hertfordshire Police, the CPS, the Metropolitan Police National Extradition Unit and police forces in France, Italy, Austria and Poland.
‘This is understood to be the first prosecution of its kind in the country and demonstrates that, as criminals adapt to new methods of laundering their proceeds of crime, the police will adapt as well. We will continue our enquiries with a view to bringing others involved to justice.’
Paul Fitzsimmons, from ERSOU’s Financial Investigation Team, said: ‘The seizure and forfeiture of funds that have been derived from unlawful conduct is key to disrupting the continuing cycle of criminality.
‘We will continue to make maximum use of all available legislation to ensure that no-one profits from being involved in crime.’