Lawyers representing the younger of two Charedi men accused of laundering millions have argued police investigators have “drawn a blank” in linking him to a suspicious bank account.
David Cohen, 38, is accused along with his 67-year-old father, Edward Cohen, of funnelling “huge sums of money”, made from the illegal sale of Viagra and other prescription medication, through an international network of firms, bank accounts and currency exchanges.
Investigators claim around £10.2 million of a total income of £18.7 million between 2012 and 2014 can be identified as laundered money.
One particular bank account – in David Cohen’s name – was the subject as Detective Inspector Neil Reynolds, the investigating officer, was cross-examined at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday morning.
The jury heard that £10.3 million was paid into it, and £10.27 million paid out.
Mark Tomassi, defending David Cohen, argued there was no evidence linking his client to expenditure made by the account, although it was in his name.
Cross-examining the investigating officer, Det Insp Reynold, he said: “From the get-go David Cohen made his case abundantly clear to the investigation.
“He stated he knew nothing of the operation of the crime and he, as far as I can see, answered every single question that was put to him.
“He says he believes the expenditure was down to his father. Essentially you have drawn a blank haven’t you?
“I am putting to you as a specific point that he is not responsible for a penny piece of [the account].”
He then accused investigators of failing to investigate David Cohen’s claims that he had no knowledge of the crimes since his arrest, in September 2014.
In police interviews, David Cohen also disputed the authenticity of a number of financial documents which “purported to bear his signature”, Mr Tomassi added.
The defence counsel also contended that, based on his own transactions and standard of living, there was “no evidence of largesse or excessive expenditure” on David Cohen's part.
Det Insp Reynolds granted there was nothing to suggest a “lavish lifestyle”.
The pair’s trial, expected to last 12 weeks, began last Monday.
David Cohen, of Ashbourne Avenue, in Temple Fortune, denies supplying false or misleading information to the Charity Commission, becoming concerned in criminal property, acquiring criminal property and theft.
Edward Cohen, of Paget Road, Stamford Hill, denies supplying false or misleading information to the Charity Commission, two counts of becoming concerned in criminal property, acquiring criminal property and theft.
Police officers raided the community of Chabad UK - which is an entirely separate charity from Chabad Lubavitch UK, and not part of the official Chabad movement - on Oldhill Street, in Stamford Hill, in September 2014.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutor James Dawes QC said officers found “thousands of pages” of documents allegedly linking the charity to the sale of medication to customers in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.
Included in the paperwork, Mr Dawes said, was evidence of “merchant accounts and correspondence in relation to foreign-exchange transfers”, as well as an application to establish a company in Hong Kong.
Mr Dawes said the case will come down to whether the Cohens committed “dishonest or deliberate criminality”, predicting the defence counsel would argue neither man “knew or suspected” money transferred to their charities “came from criminal property”.
Prosecutors also argue that Chabad UK received more than half of its £18.7 million income from accounts used for sales – rather than donations – over an eight-year period.