MYSTERY surrounds the future of a luxury Romsey hotel that was meant to reopen this week, following an eight-year investigation into money laundering.

The award-winning White Horse Hotel and Brasserie in the Market Place was taken off alleged members of an international laundering group following a probe by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The haul was recovered from three defendants, including a practising barrister who agreed to hand over assets rather than face a 15-day trial.

The orders were a culmination of a complex civil recovery investigation involving Romsey businessman Jonathan Nuttall.

A spokesperson from the NCA said there is no "set date yet" for the hotel to reopen, due to "health and safety issues".

They added: "We need to make sure we meet all the regulations and the hotel is up to scratch before it opens."

When asked what the health and safety issues were surrounding the hotel, the NCA declined to comment.

A statement on The White Horse Hotel's website said: "We have submitted an offer to buy the freehold property and hope to be back soon and open for business again in 2020."

As previously reported in the Romsey Advertiser, the NCA uncovered a laundering network that saw hundreds of millions of pounds transferred through more than 100 bank accounts held globally including in the UK, Russia, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

The NCA took possession of the hotel on September 30 as a result of a "civil recovery investigation which concluded in May 2019", according to a spokesperson.

Last week, the NCA told the Advertiser they hoped to reopen the business again "in some capacity within the next seven days".

They added the hotel would continue to operate under a "property management company, appointed by the NCA’s Trustee" and would "take new bookings" after it reopens.

Dorothy Baverstock, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: "I am a bit devastated that it is not going to open, but I am really interested to know what the health and safety issues are concerning.

"It was about five years when the hotel reopened after having a complete refurbishment and Test Valley Borough Council would have monitored the building before, because it is a preservation area."

She added: "The health and safety issues could be to do with the staff as well, but it is a bit worrying this has happened after the NCA have taken over the running of the hotel."