A bank employee counts pound notes. File picture: Sukree Sukplang/Reuters

London - A lottery winner who lived a jet-set lifestyle must hand over assets worth millions after she was found to be at the centre of an international money-laundering racket.

Amanda Nuttall, 45, who scooped a £2.5 million (around R46 million)  jackpot in 2008, hired private jets for luxury holidays to Cannes and Dubai and enjoyed shopping sprees at Harrods.

The mother-of-three and her husband Jonathan, 46, sent their children to the £38 000-a-year (approximately R770 000-a-year) boarding school Stowe and rented a £2 000-a-week (around R37 000) flat in central London.

But an eight-year investigation by the National Crime Agency found that the Nuttalls were at the heart of a money-laundering network which saw hundreds of millions of pounds transferred across more than 100 bank accounts across the globe.

The NCA said Mr Nuttall had ‘amassed considerable wealth as a result of his and others’ unlawful conduct’ – but had put his assets in his wife’s name.

Now she and two associates have to forfeit £6 million (around R111 million) worth of assets – including a £100 000 Bentley Mulsanne, a hotel and ten properties – as part of a civil recovery case. Along with Mrs Nuttall, property developer Eric Grove, 89, of Lapworth, Warwickshire, and barrister Timothy Becker, 55, who lives in London and has practised law for almost 30 years, have agreed to hand over assets rather than face trial.

Mr Nuttall was not a party to the claim because he put all his assets in his wife’s name. His activities became apparent during a separate civil recovery investigation involving convicted drug smuggler Amir Azam, the NCA said.

Azam, who was jailed for life in the United Arab Emirates but later released on appeal, met Mr Nuttall in Dubai in 2005. A High Court judge presiding over the Azam case in 2014 said that ‘evidence strongly points towards Mr Nuttall being a money launderer’.

The Nuttalls bought a sprawling house in Romsey, Hampshire, for £1.5 million in 2005, but the couple could not explain how they made their money. Mrs Nuttall was also unable to provide a consistent account of how her National Lottery prize money was spent.

The NCA said it analysed 100,000 transactions and found that hundreds of millions of pounds had been moved between bank accounts in the UK, Russia, Hong Kong and Switzerland, and laundered through a series of companies. The agency said it was likely that funds embezzled from the Russian state or from frauds committed in the UK were passed through companies incorporated in countries including the UK, Russia, Austria, the US, Croatia and the British Virgin Islands.

Andy Lewis, head of asset denial at the NCA, said: ‘Jonathan Nuttall amassed considerable wealth as a result of his and others’ unlawful conduct. He is not himself a party to the claim. That is because he structured his business affairs so that he didn’t hold any of the recoverable property himself, leaving everything in the name of his wife and others.’

Daily Mail