SINGAPORE: The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) was on Wednesday (Jan 26) granted seizure of 15 gold bars worth £650,000 (S$1.2 million) that are linked to an international money laundering network.
Investigations began when a Singaporean woman was stopped at Heathrow Airport in 2020, carrying the gold bars in her hand luggage.
According to the agency, she had arrived from Singapore and was transiting through the airport to catch a flight to Chennai, India.
"She initially told NCA investigators she was taking the bars from a jeweller in Singapore to another jeweller in India. She had no explanation for her strange routing," said the agency on Thursday.
"Further enquiries by the NCA revealed invoices she was carrying for the gold were fake, and the Chennai jeweller did not exist."
The gold was seized as suspected proceeds of crime, and the woman was allowed to continue on her journey, the agency added.
After a two-day hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, the agency was awarded forfeiture of the bars under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Investigations revealed that the gold bars belonged to a criminal money laundering network active in Europe and Asia, said NCA Branch Commander Andy Noyes.
He added that investigators had worked with their Indian counterparts to disprove the woman's story.
"Gold is an attractive commodity for criminals to use to move money because relatively small amounts can have a high value," he said.
"We think they were attempting to move them through London to try and disguise their routing, and avoid the attentions of Indian law enforcement upon arrival there."