ENCROCHAT HACK: Money launderer who moved cash through Dubai jailed for over five years


A MONEY launderer who "cleaned" cash through associates in criminals' playground Dubai was sentenced to five and a half years in prison today.

Richard Oliffe, 34 of Beckenham, Kent, was jailed after he admitted possession with intent to supply of cocaine and money laundering charges at Southwark Crown Court. The court heard Oliffe conducted his business using the encrypted Encrochat phone system.

The sentence comes as a result of the National Crime Agency (NCA’s) Operation Venetic, a large-scale crackdown on criminal use of the Encrochat system.

In April French and Dutch investigators hacked into the Encrochat system and allowed police forces across Europe access to the messages.

The mysterious owners of Encrochat shut the system down in June once they realised the hack had happened.

There were around 9,000 suspected users in the UK and so far more than 1,000 people have been arrested and hundreds charged, including Oliffe.

An NCA spokesman said: "Oliffe had been using Encrochat to communicate with fellow criminals to arrange the laundering of criminal cash over a period of at least two months.

"He also used the platform to buy cocaine which he then sold on."

Dubai has become popular with criminals from across the globe as a place to set up businesses and launder money.

The spokesman added: "Operation Venetic uncovered various conversations between Oliffe and other criminals facilitating the exchange of up to £50,000 at a time which Oliffe said that he would then launder through associates in Dubai.

"The messages illustrated that the initial exchanges of £50,000 were done to build trust so that Oliffe could then begin laundering amounts between £200k and £500k.

"There was also discussion of a criminal associate who was looking for somebody to launder £4m for them.

"Messages also showed that Oliffe was engaged in the supply of cocaine."

Hundreds of suspects have been arrested on the basis of Encrochat messages only and no other evidence, with the majority taking place in the summer.

However, Oliffe was not arrested until September.

The NCA said he was arrested at Euston Train Station in September in possession of a bag containing £34,960.

Officers searched his house in Hayes, Kent and found small amounts of cocaine and £1,000 of cash.

The agency has not said if it was already aware of the messages it linked to him before the arrest.

Matt McMillan Organised Crime Partnership Operations Manager said “Richard Oliffe believed he could use an encrypted device to conduct his criminal activity under the radar, using it to launder large quantities and to supply cocaine. “Cash is the lifeblood of organised crime, and money launderers like Oliffe provide an essential service, allowing criminal networks to benefit from their crime and invest in further criminality.

“Removing Oliffe from the chain will have dealt a blow to the criminal networks he worked for.

“This investigation shows the commitment of the NCA and Metropolitan Police to ensure money launderers and drug suppliers face justice.”

Several people charged under Operation Venetic have lodged appeals that much of the evidence was a "live intercept" as it was witnessed by the NCA while being sent.

Live intercepts should not usually be accepted as evidence in British courts.

A test case is going to the Supreme Court.