Shoreditch nightclub pair laundered millions from brothels

East Village nightclub in Great Eastern Street

East Village nightclub in Great Eastern Street - Credit: Archant

A Shoreditch nightclub was used as a front to launder at least £12.3m made from prostitution.

[L-R (clockwise): Rodrigues; Sheldrick; Hart; Soares]

[L-R (clockwise): Rodrigues; Sheldrick; Hart; Soares] - Credit: Archant

Ashley Sheldrick and Terrence Hart set up bogus hospitality companies when they ran East Village nightclub in Great Eastern Street, so they could apply for chip and pin machines for non-existent events.

Inner London Crown Court heard how they then supplied the machines and funding to at least seven brothels in Camden and Westminster, in return for a cut of the profits.

Taxi drivers were paid for seeking potential customers outside strip clubs and bringing them to the brothels, where men were offered sex and cocaine, which many paid for via the chip and pin machines.

In some cases clients unknowingly paid up to £10,000 when they thought they were being charged a lot less.

Brazilian nationals, Anilton Soares and Cassia de Sousa Rodrigues, both of no fixed abode, were linked to most of the brothels, and while Soares used false documentation to rent the properties the brothels ran from, brothel maid de Sousa Rodrigues took payments on the card machines.

Detectives from the central criminal finance team (CFT) began investigating in November 2012, and Hart and Sheldrick were arrested at the East Village Club six months later.

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De Sousa Rodrigues, who was originally released on bail in 2012 when the connections between the group were not known, fled back to Brazil where Soares had already escaped. But in 2014 the pair returned to the UK and were re-arrested.

On May 1 Sheldrick, 50 of Wrottesley Road, Brent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manage a brothel for the purposes of prostitution, and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime.

He has been ordered to pay £6.3m from his share of 44 properties within six months, which will go to the Home Office and the Met to spend on more policing operations.

The Central CFT is pursuing confiscation orders against the other three defendants.

Terrence Hart, 46, of Upper Hamilton Road, Brighton, Soares, 41, and de Sousa Rodrigues, 33, were found guilty of the same offences last week at the Inner London Crown Court.

Hart was jailed for 10 years, Sheldrick was jailed for eight years, Soares for five years and de Sousa Rodrigues three years.

Det Sergeant Geoff Donoghue of the CCFT, said: “When our investigation started over two years ago the use of bogus companies laundering vice money via chip and pin machines was very new.

“It served to speed up the money laundering process and further enabled brothel users under the influence of drink and or drugs to be defrauded”.

East Village is now under new management.