Universities and schools in the United Kingdom attract students from rich families from across the globe, but the son of a former prime minister who paid £1,000 per day for an apartment in Knightsbridge drew the attention of crime officials.
The student, named Vlad Luca Filat, 22, paid £390,000 upfront in rent for the apartment. He now must hand over nearly half a million pounds following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
NCA’s financial investigators suspected that the funds used were derived for illegal activity by his father, Vladimir Filat, the former prime minister of Moldova in east Europe. His three bank accounts were frozen under new forfeiture provisions introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
NCA said the former prime minster is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence after being convicted in June 2016 for his part in the disappearance of $1billion (£646 million) from three Moldovan banks.
“With no registered income in the UK, HSBC records showed that the Vlad Luca’s accounts and living expenses were funded by large deposits from overseas companies, mainly based in Turkey and the Cayman Islands”, the NCA said.
“Multiple cash deposits were also identified across the UK branch network, with £98,100 paid in over one three-day period. After moving to London in July 2016 to begin his studies, Vlad Luca led an extravagant lifestyle, spending significant sums of money on luxury goods and services, including a £200,000 Bentley ‘Bentayga’ bought from a Mayfair dealership”.
At the City of London Magistrates Court, district judge Michael Snow granted forfeiture orders on Vlad Luca’s three frozen accounts, requiring £466,321.72 to be forfeited.
Snow said: “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the cash was derived from his father’s criminal conduct in Moldova.”
Rob MacArthur from the NCA’s International Corruption Unit, said: “Account Freezing Orders are a valuable tool in the fight against illicit finance in the UK. Where we suspect money in an account is the proceeds of crime, we can apply to the court to freeze and then forfeit the sums.
“In this case, Vlad Luca Filat was unable to demonstrate a legitimate source for the money and the court determined it to be recoverable.”