A father-of-two from Corby has been jailed for laundering money to the value of almost £500,000.
Dumitru Ursu, 45, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to laundering the money.
Nearly £479,000 was paid by Stena Drilling to an account it believed to be that of contractor MTM Construction.
In fact, Stena had been duped into paying money into a Lloyds TSB business account registered to a Corby address.
The money was paid two days before Christmas 2011, with MTM not realising the payment was missing until January.
It meant Ursu, of Jackdaw Road, was able to withdraw the money initially without suspicion.
Prosecuting, Adrian Harris said: “From that single payment, Ursu began to withdraw the money and transfer it, first very small amounts – £20, £30, £150 – then began to make sizeable withdrawals and transfers.”
He said Ursu embarked on a tour of London, withdrawing larger amounts of money in branches or at ATMs.
Ursu was discovered when he was selected for a spot check while in his car trying to board a ferry in Dover in January 2012.
More than £56,000 was discovered in the lining of his bag.
In his police interview, Ursu, who is originally from Romania and used to live in the United States before moving to the UK nine years ago, claimed two men were threatening him and forcing him to allow the use of his bank account to keep the fraudulently obtained money.
The court was told by Ursu’s legal team he was deeply and genuinely remorseful.
A 37-year-old man was also jailed for laundering smaller amounts of money in the same fraud. Donatas Bajorunas, of Claughton Road, Northampton, was handed a 12-month prison sentence. He withdrew sums of up to £8,000.
Judge Richard Bray said they would receive only minimum credit for a late guilty plea, and he told Ursu: “Prior to that, you told a pack of lies in interviews with police.”
A third co-defendant had earlier received a suspended jail term.
After sentencing, Judge Bray said: “I trust banks are tightening up their procedures in light of widespread fraud of this nature.”