A PROFESSIONAL Rhyl money launderer has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison.
Roger Budgen, aged 46 from Rhyl, was the ringleader of an international drugs and money laundering group and was handed the sentence at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday.
Following the National Crime Agency’s investigation, Budgen's wife Caroline Hartery,
41, was given 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, and 200 hours community service for laundering criminal proceeds alongside a trio of associates.
They were Paul Beament of Acton, West London who was given a four years sentence, Dean Conyers, of Kilburn, London, jailed for two years for conspiracy to supply cannabis and Peter Dolan, of Bootle, Liverpool, who was given a sentence of 18 months for supplying cannabis and possessing cocaine.
Budgen and his wife had deposited more than £300,000 into their bank accounts despite not declaring any income for over 10 years.
He also coordinated an international money laundering system where he linked criminals across Europe so that thousands of criminal pounds could be illegally transferred from the continent into the UK.
They also employed a number of tactics in an attempt to avoid law enforcement detection, including communicating via a number of mobile phones, using public telephone boxes for particularly sensitive conversations, adopting codewords, such as ‘scratch’ for cash, ‘pollen’ for cannabis and ‘sweat’ for Scottish bank notes.
They used the serial numbers on banknotes as ‘passcodes’ to validate their couriers’ identities and ensure cash was handed over to the right person.
The holder of a cash haul would be given the serial number on a £5 note via a text message. The collecting criminal would be in possession of the actual £5 note displaying that number.
In some cases the criminal cash was credited to Euro top-up cards and spent abroad, including in Holland and Spain where Budgen and his wife spent a considerable amount of time.
Simon Flowers Branch Commander NCA Wales, said: “This was a professionally managed crime group who used a range of tactics to try and avoid law enforcement. But as today’s sentence shows we were able to follow their criminal activity across Europe and bring them to justice.
“Budgen was well established within the international criminal community, and had built up a wide network of criminal associates throughout the UK and Europe.
“He was clearly the controller of this group, not only overseeing the supply of cannabis and hiding criminal proceeds, but connecting criminals across Europe to professional money launderers.”
The case began in 2010 when investigations revealed the full extent of Budgen’s criminal connections.
It led to numerous separate operations being launched across Europe and the arrest of over 50 people for a range of crimes including drug trafficking and money laundering.
Cash seizures have so far totalled more than £1m alongside substantial criminal assets, several thousand kilos of cannabis and multiple kilos of cocaine, amphetamine and mephedrone.