Luxury watch shop to the stars including Premier League footballers and rappers has ‘£10 million worth of stock seized by Britain’s FBI in a suspected money laundering probe’
- NCA seized more than 300 luxury watches from WatchTrader & Co last October
- Britain’s FBI took £10 million worth of stock from the Newcastle-based store
- Store allegedly traded watches for clients who were paid after the pieces sold
- Owners of seized watches must prove they had ‘legitimate means’ to buy them
The National Crime Agency (NCA) confiscated more than 300 timepieces last year from WatchTrader & Co in a surveillance operation that resulted in four arrests.
WatchTrader & Co, located in Newcastle, allegedly traded timepieces on behalf of clients who were then given payment once the watches are sold, The Sun reported.
Those who claim to own one of the seized watches are now being required to provide a tax return to prove they had ‘legitimate means’ to buy the designer pieces.
Britain’s FBI seized £10million worth of stock during a suspected money laundering probe into WatchTrader & Co, whose clientele includes Premier League footballers. Pictured: Ex-striker Alan Shearer shopping at the Newcastle-based store
The National Crime Agency (NCA) confiscated more than 300 timepieces last year from WatchTrader & Co in a surveillance operation that resulted in four arrests
The NCA seized hundreds of watches – including those designed by Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet – from the store in Jesmond, Newcastle last October.
Since the seizure, clients are reportedly trying to reclaim their watches – some of which are worth up to £300,000 each.
One customer allegedly had six watches that were being sold by the store taken by investigators. Their collection is said to be worth more than £1million.
Another customer told The Sun he was ‘frustrated’ at the NCA because it ‘refused’ return his £60,000 Rolex even though he provided the receipt.
The agency allegedly sent him an email stating: ‘The NCA continues to lawfully retain watches seized in connection with suspected offences.
‘The release is considered on a case by case basis.’
MailOnline has approached WatchTrader & Co and the NCA for comment.
WatchTrader & Co is said to be cooperating with the NCA investigation and will ‘continue to trade in the normal way’.
The company has sold timepieces to the likes of England players Alan Shearer, Callum Wilson and Conor Coady, as well as Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin (pictured at the store)
The NCA seized hundreds of watches – including those designed by Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet – from the store in Jesmond last October. Since then, clients are reportedly trying to reclaim their watches – some of which are worth up to £300,000 each
Manchester United‘s Lisandro Martinez was also spotted at the store just five days before the seizures.
An insider told the Sun the investigation is a ‘huge headache’ for the footballers who ‘love’ high-end watches because they are the ‘ultimate dressing room status symbol.’
‘The boys may now face having to submit their payslips and tax returns to prove they could afford the watch if they want them back,’ the source alleged.
There is no indication that the store’s celebrity customers have broken any laws.