A UK national has been jailed and two others received suspended sentences for involvement in the trafficking of fighter-jet parts to Iran, following an investigation by HMRC (22 November).
Alexander George was jailed for two-and-a-half years for shipping military items – including Russian MiG and US F4 Phantom parts – to Iran without a licence, in contravention of export controls over military and dual-use goods. He was charged under s68(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act (1979) and s34 of the Export Control Order 2008 concerning supply and delivery to an embargoed destination. His accomplices, Paul Attwater and his wife, Iris Attwater, were each given a suspended six-month sentence for shipping aircraft components from the US to George’s operations in Malaysia and Dubai, from where they were shipped onwards to Iran. The pair were charged under s68(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act (1979). Although the UK’s export control regime is operated by the Department for International Trade (‘DIT’)’s Export Control Joint Unit (‘ECJU’), HMRC has responsibility for enforcing licensing requirements concerning the export of military and ‘sensitive’ goods.
‘This was a calculated and cynical attempt to undermine strict trade embargoes and internationally agreed controls,’ said Simon York, Director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC. ‘They knew the rules and weaved increasingly elaborate plans to stay under the radar.’
The trio now face legal action under the Proceeds of Crime Act (‘POCA’) to recover an estimated £5m in profit from George and £500,000 from the Attwaters.