The Slovenia Times

Four Slovenians convicted over fraud against BBC

The headquarters of British national broadcaster BBC. Photo: Aljoša Rehar/STA

The Ljubljana District Court has sentenced four Slovenians to jail for their involvement in an email scam that defrauded the British national broadcaster BBC of €336,000. A fifth defendant has been acquitted.

Several Slovenian newspapers have reported that the court handed down the sentences on 10 April. They range from three years and two months in prison to an imprisonment of one year.

The four defendants - three men and a woman - were also fined for their involvement in the fraud and money laundering scheme. The fines range from €3,500 to €1,000.

All four must also pay a solidarity contribution to the BBC in the amount of €236,000, while each of them was ordered to return individual sums they unlawfully obtained and have not yet repaid to the broadcaster.

If the fines are not paid by the due date, they will have to spend additional days in prison. The defendants can still appeal against the rulings.

Part of money ended up in Nigeria

The Slovenians helped unknown perpetrators carry out the scam in 2019.

The BBC wanted to transfer the money to the Channel 2 company from the United Arab Emirates to purchase a media licence to cover the 2019 Cricket World Cup. In part to the carelessness of one of the broadcaster's employees, the money was instead wired to an account that one of the convicted Slovenians opened in Slovenia.

She then converted the pounds into euros, and transferred €269,000 to an account of another convicted co-conspirator. The third convicted suspect is believed to have managed the account in reality, and the fourth coordinated possible transactions with the foreign perpetrators.

The scam had allegedly been organised in Nigeria, where some of the money ended up. A Nigerian suspect was apprehended, but there is no information about the criminal proceedings taking place in Africa.

One of the Slovenian suspects tried to withdraw the rest of the money, but her bank had already been informed of the suspicious transactions and had blocked her account.

The Slovenian law enforcement authorities managed to secure a fifth of the total amount, some €77,000, in time by blocking the account. The money was returned to the BBC.

The fifth suspect was acquitted because the prosecution was not able to prove her involvement in the scam, but the judge in charge of the case said that her conduct showed elements of a money laundering offence. However, her actions had not been described in such a way in the indictment and the court was not able to convict her.


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