Employer stands by convicted criminal caught with holdall stuffed with £200,000

An architect has been thrown off the Arb register after being caught with a holdall stuffed with more than £200,000 in cash.

Sheik Muhammad Khalimullah Maudarbocus of London had a further £30,000 in cash at home together with machines for checking and counting banknotes.

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His explanation for the money changed over time but he was convicted last year of money laundering – being in possession of the proceeds of crime – and sentenced to two years in jail.

The total amount of money laundered may have been as much as £4 million.

The professional conduct committee (PCC), which erased him from the register this month, heard that his employer had stood by him and re-employed on a £14 million project.

Maudarbocus’ defence was that he was simply doing his father’s bidding as a loyal son and thought the cash came from an Islamic charity based in Dubai. His father was also convicted. Four months later he said the money had been seized from a business associate of his father who owed him money.

The judge said the jury had been right not to believe his claim that he didn’t realise the money was the proceeds of crime. He said: “You would have had to have been naïve in the extreme to be acting as a cash courier handling such large sums of money … and transferring them to unknown men in the obviously shady circumstances you described without being suspicious.”

The judge added: “Some of it, you thought perhaps more than half of it, was to be given to you for your wedding and to enable you to buy a flat.

“This was not the only occasion on which money had been created by you… You collected very substantial amounts on previous occasions from abroad and from petrol stations in the United Kingdom and passed them on using the same system.”

The PCC heard testimony from a colleague – at his unnamed practice – that they still trusted Maudarbocus. He was re-employed after his release from prison on licence and he is now working on a £14m project. The client, who had worked with him before, has full knowledge of the circumstances.

The PCC also heard that Maudarbocus was of previous good character and had shown remorse. He had worked extremely hard to qualify, and overcome some medical problems in doing so, said his lawyer.

In deciding to erase him from the architects’ register, the PCC noted the judge’s sentencing remarks that this was not an isolated episode.

It considered that to participate in organised crime in a significant way, and offer a defence which displayed a lack of integrity and dishonesty, was fundamentally incompatible with remaining a member of the profession. Maudarbocus is barred from reapplying for registration for seven years.