Buddika Kadurugamuwa caught up in £73 million scam
A solicitor who was duped into handling more than £100,000 in stolen cash has been slapped with a £2,000 fine from her regulator.
Believing she was dealing with the Pope’s personal banker, Buddika Kadurugamuwa transferred £111,400 into a HSBC account in her husband’s name. The solicitor was acting on the instructions of Luis Nobre, who said that he was in the process of closing his account down and needed to move the money. At the time she made the transfer, she was on bail for a money laundering charge (she was later acquitted of this).
Unfortunately for Sri Lankan-born Kadurugamuwa, Nobre — who had dazzled the solicitor by posing as a billionaire investor flanked by bodyguards and a fleet of luxury vehicles — was not the Pope’s banker, but actually a sophisticated fraudster.
As well as the fine, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) ruled that Kadurugamuwa may not own or manage a law firm, may not act as a compliance officer for legal practice, and may not act as a money laundering reporting officer. The SDT also ordered her to pay costs of £2,652.
Appearing before Southwark Crown Court last year, Kadurugamuwa was found guilty on one count of transferring criminal property contrary to section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Appearing alongside Nobre, the solicitor — who now works for a north London law firm — was cleared of a further count of being concerned in a money laundering arrangement. She was handed a six-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete 125 hours of unpaid work.
The stolen cash which Kadurugamuwa safeguarded came from a £73 million scam involving offshore pipeline giant Allseas Group. Nobre was jailed for 14 years for his involvement in the fraud.
For all the latest news, features, events and jobs, sign up to Legal Cheek’s weekly newsletter here.