Colliers Wood businessman Pauliin Maklaj fails to smuggle 70,000 euros out of UK to Albania
A businessman caught smuggling thousands of euros out of the UK has had the money seized.
Paulin Maklaj, from Colliers Wood, was caught at Stansted Airport on April 19, 2012, after €70,000 - the equivalent of just over £61,000 - was sniffed out by a Border Force dog.
He had been waiting to board a flight to Albania and initially told officers he was carrying just €10,000, but when challenged admitted he actually had €70,000 on him.
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 the rest was intended to buy land in Albania but could provide no evidence to show where the money had come from.
The cash was seized by Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on March 7 under the proceeds of crime act with neither Maklaj, nor Lukic appearing in court to contest the case.
John Chelchowski, senior investigating officer, 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 do not require a criminal conviction in order to seize cash suspected of being obtained through criminal means.
Only individuals who can prove it came from a legitimate source will get their money back to prevent money made from criminal activity being hidden in bank accounts and other assets overseas.