Wales

Gwynedd fraudster conspired to launder nearly £6m

Michael Kinane Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption Michael Kinane admitted three frauds involving cars as well as money laundering charges

A man has admitted conspiring to money launder nearly £6m.

Michael Kinane, 41, of Porthmadog, Gwynedd, was caught following a joint FBI and British police probe into a major fraud.

Kinane also pleaded guilty to three frauds involving vehicle hire purchase agreements, including claiming he was a director of energy company Shell to obtain a Range Rover.

North Wales Police previously said a US firm had suffered a $7.8m (£5.8m) loss.

Kinane was remanded in custody at Caernarfon Crown Court and is due to be sentenced on 24 January.

The case was referred to North Wales Police last November by the UK's national reporting centre for fraud, Action Fraud.

The crime, known as business email compromise (BEC) fraud, targeted a UK and US based company, resulting in a loss of $7.8m.

Kinane was arrested on 8 August as he got off a plane from Turkey at Gatwick Airport and charged with money laundering and fraud offences.

Det Con David Rock, who investigated the case, said: "It is clear that any company or person can be subject to fraud irrespective of how robust their procedures appear.

"We are grateful to the companies subject to this fraud for their ethical approach in reporting this case to the police and FBI as soon as possible and fully supporting the investigation thereafter.

"As they reported the crime as soon as it was discovered, this assisted in the immediate recovery of approximately $1.6m which has since been repatriated to the victim company."

BEC targets firms working with foreign suppliers and companies that regularly perform wire transfer payments.

It usually involves scammers targeting employees with access to company finances and tricking them into making wire transfers to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners, but which are actually controlled by criminals.

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