QPay Europe Limited, which claims to be a fintech start up offering due diligence and underwriting services, has consented to a court order to give up £2,000,000 held in its name following proceedings brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the Proceeds of Crime Act in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
The money was initially frozen in urgent proceedings brought by the FCA in October and December 2020.
The FCA claimed the money was the proceeds of illegal activity connected to criminal proceedings in the United States of America concerning an alleged conspiracy to commit wire fraud against banks, credit card companies and other financial service providers in the USA. The FCA is not alleging that QPay is involved in this conspiracy.
The FCA’s concerns were raised following an application by QPay to become a regulated firm in March 2020. QPay received the money from software firm, Fintech International Q Software WLL, allegedly as an investment. However, the FCA observed QPay moved the money repeatedly to different bank accounts in several countries and none of the transactions appeared to be related to legitimate business. QPay has withdrawn its application to be regulated by the FCA.
The orders are called account forfeiture orders which means the sums totalling £2,000,000 held by QPay are paid to the UK government. The order was made by consent by District Judge Cieciora at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said, 'Account forfeiture orders are an important means of intervening and capturing illegal money and this action is a good example of what can be done. The funds will now be used to assist the FCA and other authorities fight illegal activity. The FCA will continue to vet applications for authorisation to ensure firms meet our standards of integrity as well as competence.'
Notes to editors
- Seven account freezing orders in respect of these monies were obtained by the FCA Proceeds of Crime Team in October and December 2020 under s303Z1 POCA 2002; the application for the monies to be made forfeit was in October 2021.
- Powers to apply to freeze monies held in bank accounts were granted to the FCA through the amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 made by the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
- Details of the case in the US can be found here. The FCA is not alleging that QPay is connected to this conspiracy.
- Find out more information about the FCA.