A solicitor has been convicted of helping launder money on behalf of a man who claimed to be Pope Francis’s banker as part of a massive scam.
Buddika Kadurugamuwa, a consultant at a north London law firm, will be sentenced later this week after being found guilty of one count of transferring criminal property at Southwark Crown Court.
She was convicted alongside Luis Nobre, a Portguese national who persuaded a Dutch shipping company, Allseas, to part with €100m by posing with others as a financier with connections to the Vatican.
According to the Metropolitan Police, the fraudsters posed as international financiers with access to vast, secret investment opportunities and connections to the Vatican and the Spanish House of Aragon. They were able to persuade Allseas to transfer €100m into Nobre’s control.
The London Evening Standard reported that Mr Nobre claimed to be able to deliver 1,200% a year returns on investment using the Pontiff’s secret trading platform.
The Met said €88m had now been returned to Allseas. “The remainder was spent by Nobre on a lavish lifestyle that included five-star hotels, private security, concierge services, clothing and hairdressing. He also used the cash to pay off debts.”
Mr Nobre was jailed for 14 years for one count of acquiring criminal property, five counts of transferring criminal property and three counts of possession of articles for use in fraud.
A spokesman for the Solicitors Regulation Authority said: “We are aware of the matter and await the conclusion of the criminal proceedings before deciding on an appropriate course of action.”