Advertisement

London fintech owner linked to drug kingpins faces Belgian trial

 (Rick Findler/PA) (PA Archive)
(Rick Findler/PA) (PA Archive)

A London-based fintech owner accused of helping drug traffickers launder hundreds of millions of euros through a crypto exchange platform must be extradited to Belgium to face criminal charges, a London judge ruled.

Caio Marchesani, who owns Trans-Fast Remittance, a payments business regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, is alleged to have accepted cryptocurrency from the criminal organisation of Flor Bressers, a Belgian national known as the “finger cutter.”  Belgian prosecutors claim the cryptocurrency was used to pay for cocaine. Marchesani, who was arrested at Heathrow Airport in May, will have seven days to appeal against the order, a London judge said on Tuesday approving his removal.

Marchesani’s lawyer and the prosecution declined to comment immediately after the Tuesday ruling.

ADVERTISEMENT

The prosecution’s case has “false, vague, ambiguous or inaccurate particulars,” his lawyers at law firm Mishcon de Reya previously said. “What is clear however, is that none of the allegations against him relate to any of his business interests in the UK.”

The efforts to extradite Marchesani is part of a broader investigation that kicked off three years ago after the Dutch government seized more than 12 tonnes of cocaine, worth more than €260 million ($278 million) at Europe’s busiest port, Rotterdam.

Authorities traced the haul to Bressers and De Carvalho, later zeroing in on Marchesani after a breakthrough in decoding encrypted communications. “He is a dark banker who receives money and moves it around at the will of the criminal organization in order to disguise its origins,” the prosecutors acting for the Belgian authorities alleged at an earlier hearing.

A trial of 30 defendants in the case, including Bressers, started in Belgium earlier this month but was immediately postponed, according to local press reports.

A pre-recorded message left by Trans-Fast’s when contacted by phone said the payment service is currently offline and it aims to restart services soon. Companies House filings from August show another owner has been added to the registry.