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Student's funds seized after he paid $500,000 rent on penthouse

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 2/7/2019 Christopher Elser

A London student who prepaid 390,000 pounds ($500,000) in rent for a Knightsbridge penthouse must hand over nearly half a million pounds after an investigation by the U.K.’s National Crime Agency.

Three bank accounts for Vlad Luca Filat, 22, were frozen in May 2018 after NCA financial investigators suspected the funds derived from illegal activity by his father, Vladimir Filat, the former prime minister of Moldova.

Vladimir Filat is serving a nine-year sentence after his conviction in June 2016 for his part in the disappearance of $1 billion from three Moldovan banks. The missing money is equivalent to an eighth of the ex-Soviet republic’s entire GDP, the NCA said.

With no registered income in the U.K., bank records showed that the Vlad Luca’s accounts and living expenses were funded by large deposits from overseas companies, mainly based in Turkey and the Cayman Islands. Multiple cash deposits were also identified across the U.K. branch network, with 98,100 pounds paid in over one three-day period.

After moving to London in July 2016 to begin his studies, Vlad Luca spent significant sums of money on luxury goods and services, including a 200,000-pound Bentley “Bentayga” bought from a Mayfair dealership.

On Tuesday, London Judge Michael Snow granted forfeiture orders on Vlad Luca’s three frozen accounts, requiring nearly half a million pounds to be forfeited.

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