Gold bars and painting taken from ‘prolific money launderer’ will be sold

Gold bars and painting taken from 'prolific money launderer' will be sold

A man who is being hunted for money laundering was found in possession of gold and art worth millions of pounds, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has said.

Lenn Mayhew-Lewis, 69, who the NCA described as a “prolific money launderer”, was found with eight kilos of gold bars and shavings stashed in his Bentley when he was arrested in 2019.

They are now thought to be worth more than £400,000, authorities said.

Separately, a painting by artist Frank Auerbach was also found to have been purchased by Mayhew-Lewis – whose clientele included drugs traffickers – in 2017 for £1.6m. The artist’s works can, however, sell for up to £5.5m.

It is believed the painting, named ‘Albert Street, 2009’, was subsequently used by another individual as collateral to secure a £5m loan from a UK auction house.

Mayhew-Lewis, from Surrey, was convicted of money laundering in 2023 and is now being sought by the NCA as he absconded before sentencing. He was sentenced in his absence to five years in prison.

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The gold and painting will now be sold after an application for them to be forfeited was granted during a hearing on Monday.

Funds will go into the public purse, with up to half of the proceeds going straight into fighting organised crime under the Home Office’s Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme, the NCA said.

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Senior investigating officer Barry Vinall, from the International Corruption Unit, said: “The gold and the painting are proceeds of crime and would most likely have been used to finance further criminal ventures, resulting in more harm in our communities, or to fund luxurious lifestyles for criminals.

“It’s fitting that the money from these items will now be ploughed into fighting organised crime.

“By doggedly pursuing criminals’ cash, the NCA is disrupting some of the serious and organised crime harming countless people across the UK every day.”