Limehouse woman and her fiance in �9.2million money laundering scam

A couple who ran a �9.2m money laundering racket for drugs barons from their bureau de change are facing jail this week.

Limehouse woman Binita Karnavat, 31, and her fianc� Manish Patel, 26, covered up the massive operation by failing to record the trades and using false passport details to keep their activities secret.

The crooked duo kept nearly �8.5m worth of illicit business off the books between April 2010 and April 2011, at the BK Forex Money Exchange, in Shaftesbury Avenue, central London.

Their scam was unearthed after two convicted drug dealers were seen picking up a black holdall containing $70,000 from Karnavat in January 2011.

Karnavat was convicted by a jury of two counts of money laundering after a ten-day trial at Southwark Crown Court, despite claiming her fianc� laundered the money through her company without her knowledge.

Patel pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering at the start of the trial, and also admitted to having a false passport in Karnavat’s name and having �24,000 of criminal property.

Alexandra Felix, prosecuting, said: “BK Forex bureau de change had purchased in excess of �9.2m worth of currency from various wholesale currency dealers.

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“However, less than �750,000 worth of business is recorded in the company’s own accounts.”

The concealed funds were used for money laundering, she told the jury.

Karnavat, of Medland House, Branch Road, set up BK Forex in December 2009 and was listed as the firm’s sole director and shareholder.

When her home was raided in April 2011 police discovered a number of passports, and the prosecutor told the court they were to be used as customers’ details, to cover up illegal trades.

Both defendants are in custody and will be sentenced later this year by Judge John Price.