BREAKING DARTFORD KENT

Kent money launderer ordered to repay more than £680,000

A Kent man jailed for money laundering has been ordered to repay the cash found hidden in supermarket and sports bags at his Dartford home.

Karl Lockey, 33, of Sinclair Way, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in October 2020 for money laundering, following an investigation led by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).

ERSOU officers, assisted by colleagues from Kent Police, had arrested Lockey as part of Operation Venetic, a nationwide law enforcement investigation tackling encrypted communication devices used by criminals across the world to conduct organised crime.

When searching his address, officers found cash totalling £632,000 hidden within 12 shopping and sports bags, along with an Encrochat phone and a cash counting machine.

A number of high-value items indicating his criminal lifestyle were also seized from Lockey’s home, including motor vehicles, motorcycles, designer watches, clothing and expensive fishing equipment.

Subsequent enquires by ERSOU’s Criminal Finances Team under the Proceeds of Crime Act established that Lockey had laundered more than £2 million and that the cash was directly linked to his illicit activities, which also funded his lifestyle.

A confiscation hearing took place at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday (Thursday), where he was ordered to repay £686,599.40 in full within three months or face an additional six months in prison.

Detective Inspector Rob Turner, from ERSOU’s Criminal Finances Team, said: “Lockey was a trusted component in criminal efforts to launder illicitly made money, and it was important that the cash found in his home and the value of his assets were confiscated from him.

“Messages on the Encrochat system seen by investigators had indicated Lockey was involved with money laundering, and even contained conversations arranging meetings with secret verbal passwords, discussions and pictures of the hoarded cash and receipts of the counted amounts.

“There was therefore no doubt that Lockey should be forced to hand over the money, and I’m delighted that a sum as significant as this has been taken out of criminal hands.”