More than £23,000 cash was found hidden within the packaging of children’s toys after a car was stopped at the Channel Tunnel terminal in Folkestone.
The driver of the vehicle claimed the toys were unwanted Christmas presents and that he was intending to give them away to families in Germany, but was unable to provide a plausible explanation as to why they were being used to conceal bundles of banknotes.
Financial investigators from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate believed the money found inside the vehicle, which also included an additional £10,000 kept inside a carrier bag, was for use in unlawful conduct.
Perparim Emini, 42, of Oak Road in Oldbury, West Midlands, was the driver of the vehicle stopped by Border Force officers at the Channel Tunnel on Tuesday 12 February 2019.
He was travelling with another man and told the officers he was planning to visit Germany to source tyres for a new business. When asked if they were carrying any cash within the vehicle, they presented officers with the carrier bag containing £10,000 and denied that any further banknotes would be discovered.
Both men initially claimed to have no knowledge of the money that was then found hidden within the toy packaging, which Mr Emini later admitted was his.
He contested the cash forfeiture application along with a third man, Flurim Gaxherri, 39, of Wolverhampton Road, Oldbury, who was not travelling with Mr Emini at the time but who later claimed the £10,000 kept inside the carrier bag was his.
Both were unsuccessful but have 30 days to appeal the decision from the date of the hearing.
Detective Inspector Annie Clayton of the Serious Economic Crime Unit said: ‘While neither Mr Emini nor Mr Gaxherri were charged with any criminal offences, they were unable to prove to the courts that the money found inside the car driven by Mr Emini was not going to be used in unlawful conduct.
‘The magistrates agreed that there was a lack of evidence from the respondents and the cash will now not be returned to them.
‘This is yet another great example of how our financial investigators use the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure people are not allowed to benefit from the use of illegally-earned funds or are able to use cash to commit further offences.’
Assets recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act are distributed to operational agencies including Kent Police under the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS). Broadly, ARIS divides recovered assets between operational agencies and the Home Office which is then reinvested into policing.