BUSINESSMAN loses £450,000, including £20,000 Covid bounce-back loan, after NCA civil action



A BUSINESSMAN has lost more than £450,000, including a £20,000 Covid bounce-back loan, after National Crime Agency (NCA) civil action.

The cash will be recovered from Sylvester Esangbedo, who was offering unregulated investments and loans, after the NCA secured two forfeiture orders against funds held in his personal bank accounts.

In civil recovery proceedings, the NCA argued that Mr Esangbedo used a personal account containing $500,000 for business purposes, providing loans and being paid to invest the money of others in hedge funds. Individuals offering these services must be licensed by HMRC and Mr Esangbedo was not. A further £20,000 in a separate account was from a Bounce Back Loan, which had been applied for during the pandemic.

The application was made for Highwave Ltd, which Mr Esangbedo is a director of, and was the only activity of the company.

Both accounts were frozen while an investigation into the funds was undertaken and, following a hearing at Westminster Magistrates on 14 November, all of the money will be forfeited. Mr Esangbedo attended the hearing, where the court ordered the forfeiture of all the cash frozen in the accounts, plus interest accrued and legal costs, totalling $500,066.64 & £20,000. Andy Kelly, Acting Head of the International Corruption Unit at the NCA said: “Sylvester Esangbedo could not provide an explanation for the dollars in his account that would separate them from his illegitimate business, nor that his bounce back loan application was legitimate, so has seen the money forfeited as a result. “Civil powers, such as Account Freezing Orders, are powerful proactive tools that the NCA uses to target suspected proceeds of crime. They enable the Agency to not only recover criminal profit, but also prevent the use of illegitimate money to fund further criminality.”