KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian air steward has been jailed for 12 months after being caught trying to smuggle £150,000 criminal cash out of the United Kingdom (UK)
UK's National Crime Agency said that 37-year-old Muhamad Aziz, from Selangor, was due to fly on a Malayasian Airlines flight from London to Kuala Lumpur when he was stopped.
After scanning his bags, security staff at Heathrow Terminal 4 called in Border Force officers, who found £100,000 cash in a roller bag and another £50,000 in his black suit carrier.
Swabs taken from the cash tested positive for cocaine. Aziz was arrested for money laundering.
In interviews with National Crime Agency investigators Aziz claimed he had brought the money in on a flight the day before, and had intended to spend it on handbags and watches from Harrods. However, he said he hadn’t had a chance to go shopping because he was too tired.
He refused to explain why he had two receipts from Primark in his wallet dated that same day, as well as a customer registration card for a Malaysian money exchange bureau.
On Thursday 22 November Aziz appeared before Isleworth Crown Court and pleaded guilty to money laundering. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Ian Truby, operations manager for the NCA at Heathrow, said the story Aziz told the agency was so far fetched as to be almost laughable.
“He was a cabin crew member for 15 years and would well have known the regulations about carrying cash into and out of the country. It seems that he decided to use that employment as a cover for his criminality.
“Organised criminals rely on cash couriers like Aziz to move their profits around – his was a key role in a long criminal chain - so tackling this illicit flow of money is a priority for us and our partners,"Truby said.
He adds the money seized would be forfeited under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Director of Border Force at Heathrow, Nick Jariwalla their officers work with law enforcement colleagues like the NCA to tackle the flow of illicit funds and this is another example of where that joint working has helped take thousands of pounds of potentially criminal cash out of circulation.
“Any cash which is subsequently forfeited is then returned to the public purse”, he said.