New operator takes over Shoreditch nightclub linked to alleged £5.5million drugs and prostitution money laundering scam

East Village nightclub in Great Eastern Street

East Village nightclub in Great Eastern Street - Credit: Archant

Bar Rumba’s operator takes over Shoreditch nightclub, East Village, which has been linked to an alleged £5.5million drugs and prostitution money laundering scam

East Village nightclub in Great Eastern Street

East Village nightclub in Great Eastern Street - Credit: Archant

A Shoreditch nightclub’s license has been transferred to a new operator, following a police investigation allegedly linking the venue to a £5.5million drug dealing and prostitution money laundering scam.

East Village in Great Eastern Street was shut down suddenly last month when Hackney Police’s licensing unit demanded an urgent expedited review.

Two men involved with the club were arrested and bailed until December 13 for an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act in an ongoing investigation.

Today a full review of Andar Leisure’s license was due to be heard by Hackney Council’s licensing sub-committee.

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But another operator Miramar turned up requesting they take over the licence, represented by the same barrister previously used by Andar.

Counsel for the police, Kevin Baunber, told the committee the situation “might be rescuable”.

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He said: “The police’s financial enquiry team uncovered a very large and significant money laundering exercise being operated through the current set up by Andar, in which £5.5m or thereabouts of proceeds of crime from prostitution and drug dealing was being sent through to the accounts of the licence holder, after which the police’s trust in Andar disappeared.”

He said the applicant Miramar had engaged with and earned the trust and respect of police, who had no objection to the transfer as long as the committee were satisfied Andar and Miramar are separate entities.

Mr Baunber was asked about the connection between the money laundering and the venue itself.

“Payment terminals through which the payments for sexual services and drugs were made were from addresses in Soho and another address in Camden,” he said.

Gavin Jones from Miramar, which operates three West End bars, including Bar Rumba in Shaftesbury Avenue said they want to brighten up the “dark and dingy interior space” in East Village.

“On the mezzanine level there are private rooms and we want to open up the whole space to make a light, bright, female-friendly area,” he said.

They plan to move away from the drum and base scene to playing commercial music for the 25 plus age group.

The licensing committee was told the club had an “unhappy history” under Andar, whose license had already been revoked last May when police raised concerns about clients entering with weapons, sale of alcohol to underage police cadets and the high level of crime there.

But it continued to operate pending a decision on appeal to the magistrates’ court.

The club’s licence will be suspended for a further two months so Miramar can ensure appropriate measures are implemented for it to run smoothly.

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