North Somerset man who trafficked military parts to Iran for £5milllion and broke WMD controls has cash seized by courts

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 March 2019

Alexander George. Picture: HMRC

Alexander George. Picture: HMRC

Archant

A pensioner who broke weapons of mass destruction (WMD) controls by trafficking military parts to Iran to illegally earn more than £5million has had cash seized by the Government.

Alexander George, of Catley Grove in Long Ashton, is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for flogging fighter plane parts to the Middle East.

The 77-year-old was caught out by HMRC investigation, which found he was buying aircraft parts from the United States before shipping them to his companies in Dubai and Malaysia before sending them to Iran.

The products violated the UK’s strict licensing scheme which outlaws the shipping of military equipment to banned countries to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands.

Sums of cash – $30,700, £13,475 and 4,270 euros – were seized by police officers when George was arrested, and the money was forfeited at North Somerset Courthouse on March 4.

HMRC intends to confiscate the remaining millions George accrued illegally at a court hearing this summer.

George was first questioned in 2010 when he denied any wrongdoing and insisted he was dealing wheelbarrows and goggles for the construction industry.

When fearing detection, he added more people to the operation to disguise his involvement.

George was found guilty of being knowingly concerned in the export of goods with intent to evade the prohibition or restriction and was sentenced at the Old Bailey on November 22.

Upon his sentencing, HMRC’s fraud investigation director Simon York said the defendant ‘didn’t care what the parts might be used for, as long as he got paid’.

He added: “This was a calculated and cynical attempt to undermine strict trade embargoes. He knew the rules and weaved increasingly elaborate plans to stay under the radar.

“This case sends a clear warning to others if you try and shift illegal goods to sanctioned and embargoed countries we will catch you and you will face justice.”

Luke Dockwray, of the Crown Prosecution Service, added: “Despite being warned the goods he was exporting were at risk of being used in a WMD programme, the defendant introduced new corporate entities into the trading chain to disguise the destination of the sales, in order to continue their supply.”

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