United Kingdom

Sister of woman accused of swapping pebbles for gems in £4.2m heist was wanted for 400,000 Euro scam

The trial of a woman accused of swapping pebbles for diamonds in a £4.2 million heist has been told her sister was wanted for switching 400,000 euros in cash for paper in a Swiss bank theft.

Lulu Lakatos, 60, has already claimed it was her late younger sibling, Liliana Lakatos, who posed as a gems expert called 'Anna' to steal from luxury jeweller Boodles in central London on March 10, 2016.

'Anna' placed seven expensive diamonds into a padlocked purse before switching it for a duplicate containing pebbles while the New Bond Street shop's boss, Nicholas Wainwright, was on the phone.

Prosecutors allege that Lulu was the fake diamond expert, but she denies conspiracy to steal and says it was Liliana.

She told jurors at Southwark Crown Court that her sister had confessed to her that she used her passport to commit the crime months before she died, aged 49, in a car accident in Romania in 2019.

The court has heard that Boodles' own gemologist, Emma Barton, picked out Liliana Lakatos as the person who stole the diamonds in an identification procedure five years after the theft.

Defendant Lulu Lakatos, 60, has already claimed her sister was responsible for the heist

Lulu alleges dead sibling Liliana Lakatos was behind the £4.2m Boodles heist in London

Jurors were told that Liliana had nine convictions for theft and money laundering between 2002 and 2012 and was wanted in Switzerland for what prosecutor Philip Stott described as a 'remarkably similar' crime.

Ioana Nedelcu, defending, told the court on Friday that an 'unknown perpetrator' had secured a 40 million euro loan to resource firm United Commodity AG under 'false pretences', demanding a 400,000 euro advance interest payment in return.

She said a woman, who 'could be identified as Liliana Lakatos', attended a meeting with the company's boss, Reto Hartmann, at AEK Bank in Oberhofen, Switzerland, on October 15 2014.

'Liliana Lakatos had Reto Hartmann open the safe deposit box, take the cash, check it and put it in eight bundles held in rubber bands into an envelope she had brought along with her, which she then wrapped in adhesive tape,' said Ms Nedelcu.

Nicholas Wainwright, Chairman of Boodles, which was hit by a £4.2million diamond theft

'When Reto Hartmann was distracted by a telephone call, she took advantage of the moment of distraction and exchanged the envelope with the cash wrapped in tape for a suitably prepared envelope containing paper.

'Afterwards, Liliana Lakatos left the bank safe, got into a cab and fled with the stolen goods in an unknown direction.'

But, in his closing speech to the jury, Mr Stott said it was Lulu Lakatos, not her sister, who was captured on CCTV switching the diamonds for pebbles at Boodles before handing them to an accomplice and fleeing to France.

'You can see her in the footage, it is her,' he said.

'What has happened here is very simple: The defendant has taken advantage of the fact that her sister sadly passed away in order to try and avoid the blame for this offence.'

The trial continues.

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