Stansted Airport money smugglers have money forfeited

A BRITISH man caught attempting to smuggle €71,000 out of the UK had the money forfeited by Chelmsford Magistrates Court last Thursday. (March 7)

Paulin Maklaj, of Colliers Wood, London, was caught by Border Force officers at Stansted Airport last April after a detector dog indicated he was carrying a large amount of cash.

The money was seized from Maklaj, who was waiting to board a flight to Albania, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Maklaj insisted he was carrying €10,000 and produced a number of envelopes containing €200 bank notes.

When challenged about the amount, which officers felt was more than €10,000, he admitted to carrying €70,000.

Maklaj, who runs a building firm, told officers that €5,000 was his and the remainder belonged to an employee, Slobodan Lukic of Shepherd’s Bush, London.

He said they intended to use the money to purchase land in Albania, but provided no evidence to indicate where the money had come from.

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The cash was therefore seized and Chelmsford Magistrate’s Court granted its forfeiture after neither Maklaj or Lukic attempted to provide the police with information since October.

Neither Maklaj, nor Lukic were in court to contest the case.

Senior Investigating Officer John Chelchowski said: “The limited explanations provided were simply not plausible and there was a marked lack of evidence for both the source of the money and its stated use in Albania.

“Despite repeated requests for information neither man has been in touch with us since October last year.

“We have a responsibility to investigate cash in excess of £1,000 when we have reasonable grounds to suspect that it is linked to criminal enterprise.

“Any cash which is forfeited is then returned to the public purse.”

Border Force officers have the power to seize cash in order to recover the proceeds of criminal activity without requiring a criminal conviction.

Individuals whose money is seized will only receive it back if they can provide proof to a court that the money came from a legitimate source.

This is to prevent the money made from criminality being hidden in bank accounts and other assets overseas.