First UK Conviction for laundering proceeds of commercial distribution of child abuse images in the UK

CEOP have managed to secure a conviction for the first person in UK to be arrested for money-laundering the proceeds of commercial distribution of child abuse images.

Andrian Benzin, a 29 year old Moldovan national who was living in London was arrested by CEOP officers on the 25th July 2006. Benzin was providing access to child abuse images on a ‘pay-per-view’ website  which had 447 subscribers from 29 different countries, including 22 people from the UK (which included a scoutmaster, a teacher and two registered sex offenders). Users were able to send a monthly subscription charge of $89 per month into Benzin’s account, which enttitled them to unlimited access to 633 still and moving images of children suffering sex abuse.These sites originated in Russia and are now either blocked by the Internet Watch Foundation or have been removed.

Benzin is the first person to be convicted of laundering proceeds of the commercial distribution of child abuse images in the UK and has been sentenced to four years imprisonment. Benzin was convicted in his absence and will now be the subject of an international arrest warrant and ensuing extradition processes. Following his arrest, an order was issued against his various accounts and approximately £53,000 has now been frozen subject to a confistication hearing.

 Jim Warnock, Head of Operations at CEOP said:

“Benzin’s conviction sends out a strong message to those seeking to profit from exploiting children. He enabled hundreds of people to view images of children with no regard for the horrific abuse which they suffered, seeking only to line his own pockets.This was a complex investigation by the Financial Investigation Team and colleagues from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) who worked with law enforcement partners through the Virtual Global Taskforce and countries throughout the world to bring Benzin to account.The CEOP Centre is grateful to the IWF, the Metropolitan Police Service and the banking industry for their support and assistance in this investigation”

Benzin is described as 5ft 8 inches tall with short, dark hair and a slim build. Any information on his whereabouts should be reported to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Read the full report from CEOP here

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