A SCOTS shell firm was used to funnel thousands of pounds to the London-based daughter of a judge linked to one of the biggest money-laundering schemes ever revealed.

Investigators uncovered the payments as they dug deeper in to the scheme, the elaborate Russian Laundromat, which saw at least $20 billion of dirty money flushed out of the former Soviet Union.

The laundering was only made possible by alleged judicial corruption in Moldova and the ease at which its organisers could create ghost companies to receive payments, especially in Scotland.

The Herald:

Now journalists from the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project(OCCRP) have revealed that what they claim is money from the scheme ended up paying the rent or in the bank account of a Moldovan student Mihaela Muruianu. Her father, Ion, once headed the judiciary in the former Soviet republic and has previously referred to journalists as “rabid dogs”.

The OCCRP and its sister organisation in Moldova, RISE Moldova, found two firms named in the Laundromat had paid for Ms Muruianu’s luxury flat in London.

Rent payments totalled $130,000 (£97,000 today).

Annual rents were bigger than the judge’s declared income.

OCCRP and RISE Moldova also found that Ms Muruianu had received $28,000 (£21,000 today, from another firm, Edinburgh-based Carditeks Commerce for “audit consultancy” services.

The dollar payments were made before the pound’s collapse in 2016.

This business, now dissolved, is a Scottish limited partnership, or SLP, a kind of firm whose real owners can pay no taxes, file no accounts and, until recently, remain anonymous.

Earlier this year The Herald, using raw data from the OCCRP, revealed that some £4 billion from the Laundromat was flushed through shell firms, both limited companies and limited partnerships, registered in Scotland.

Rise Moldova asked both the judge and his daughter about the payments. Both said they knew nothing about the Russian Laundromat.

Ms Muruianu denied any knowledge of the firms used.

She told journalists: “I do not know the kind of activity these companies are involved in or who their founders are.”

Ms Muruianu said the money paid for the apartment was part of an agreement her father made with a mystery Moldovan businessman.

She said: “The essence of the deal, from my father’s words, is that my potential employer pays a part of [my] rent expenses … and after my studies, and three years of internship in a British company … which will be completed in 2019 … I agree to work in the Republic of Moldova for a period of five years, mainly in the banking sector,” she said.

"The deal was concluded in my absence and it was confidential, so I am not aware of the rest of the details, including the businessman’s identity.”

Mr Muruianu, initially claimed his daughter and her husband paid their own rent before clarifying there was indeed a deal with an unnamed entrepreneur.

One of the core firms used in the Laundromat was a Scottish shell company called Westburn Enterprises, according to OCCRP material. It received some $500 million after Moldovan judges authorised Russian firms to hand over the money.

Westburn was also named in a parallel investigation in to the Azerbaijani Laundromat.

The OCCRP/RISE Moldova investigation found some of the money was transferred to a bank account belonging to a firm in Birmingham which was then passed some $102,000 to a firm in London. This cash then went to an estate agency which handled Ms Muruianu's rent.