A Weybridge former solicitor and his wife have been stripped of £5.3million of criminal assets hidden overseas.

The Assets Recovery Agency was granted a High Court order to take the money from John and Susan Ann Szepietowski of Ashford House, Four Winds Park, St George's Hill, following an investigation prompted by a separate drugs trafficking and money laundering probe by Surrey Police.

The ARA alleged the Szepietowskis had amassed a large property portfolio through fraudulent mortgage claims and the laundering of rental income through offshore accounts.

It also alleged that the Szepietowskis benefited from a phoenix fraud scam, involving the publishing of adult magazines, and that their lavish lifestyle greatly exceeded their known legitimate income.

Solicitor Mr Szepietowski and his former building society manager wife entered negotiations with the ARA in October last year.

In January they agreed to hand over properties worth £5.375million.

ARA interim director Alan McQuillan said: "This case started with an initial investigation into the alleged laundering of the proceeds of drug trafficking from Turkey through an offshore trust which owns assets in the UK.

"Mr Szepietowski was the solicitor who set up that trust for a client and also acted as trustee.

"When ARA opened an investigation into the trust, the receiver soon uncovered a separate and complex web of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion by the Szepietowskis over a period of 15 years.

"The agency alleged that Mr Szepietowski, a solicitor, assisted by his wife, a former building society manager, obtained property by fraud and through the widespread use of false identities to conceal true ownership.

"The Szepietowskis had consistently denied this but have now agreed to settle with ARA by handing over £5.375 million in assets.

"In this particular case, ARA's initial investigation into an offshore trust fund believed to contain money from drug trafficking then led on to an investigation into the Szepietowskis' personal affairs resulting in them now losing a large part of their wealth."

The agency continues to pursue civil proceedings against the assets associated with the original offshore trust which led to the initial investigation into the Szepietowskis.