R v Anwoir and Others

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Criminal Division)
JudgeLord Justice Latham
Judgment Date27 June 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] EWCA Crim 1354
Docket NumberCase Nos 200701912 B2 / 200801300 B2/
Date27 June 2008

[2008] EWCA Crim 1354

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE

COURT OF APPEAL (CRIMINAL DIVISION)

Before:

Lord Justice Latham

Mr Justice David Clarke and Mr Justice Macduff

Case Nos 200701912 B2 / 200801300 B2/

/200702049 B2 / 200702068 B2

Between:
R
and
Ilham Anwoir
Brian Mcintosh
Ziad Meghrabi
Adnan Elmoghrabi

David Bentley on behalf of Ilham Anwoir

Jeremy Ornstin (solicitor advocate) on behalf of Brian McIntosh

William Clegg QC and Ian Bridge on behalf of Ziad Meghrabi

Mark Milliken-Smith QC and Sarah Elliott on behalf of Adnan Elmoghrabi

Simon Farrell QC, Raymond Tully and Nicholas Yeo on behalf of the Crown

Hearing date: 21 st May 2008

Lord Justice Latham
1

On the 16 th March 2007 the four appellants (as they have become) were convicted of a number of offence involving money laundering, contrary to section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“ POCA”). Anwoir was convicted of counts 1, 2, 3 and 5; McIntosh was convicted of counts 1 and 4; Meghrabi was convicted of counts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; Elmoghrabi was convicted of counts 2 and 5. In general terms, they were sentenced as follows: Anwoir two years imprisonment suspended for two years; McIntosh eight years imprisonment; Meghrabi ten years imprisonment and Elmoghrabi seven years imprisonment. Anwoir and Meghrabi renew their applications for leave to appeal against conviction, on the original grounds that had been refused by the single judge; their applications for leave to appeal on what we shall refer to as the NW point, and as far as Anwoir is concerned, what we shall describe as the jurisdiction point had been referred to the full court by the registrar. As far as the jurisdiction point is concerned, Meghrabi was granted leave to argue that point by the single judge. The application for leave to appeal against conviction by McIntosh on the NW and jurisdiction point, has also been referred to the court by the registrar. As far as Elmoghrabi is concerned, he appeals against conviction by leave of the single judge on three grounds, seeks to renew his application on the fourth ground, and to renew his application for leave to appeal against sentence, which was refused by the single judge.

Background Facts

2

The five money laundering counts arose out of investigations which originated in a police operation targeting suspected drug dealers. In the course of that investigation, an undercover police officer known as Macca tape-recorded conversations which he had with McIntosh. In the course of those conversations it became clear that McIntosh had access to people who were prepared to launder money from drug dealing. He talked about getting rid of cash in very large sums, including a reference to £500,000. He identified the person who was his contact as someone who had “a car hire business in Belsize Park, he deals a lot with Arabs.” that was a clear reference to Meghrabi. He confirmed the size of the transactions in the following terms: “we did a million fucking quid through him last year”. He said that Meghrabi had “a proper Bureau de Change”.

3

As to the source of the monies for these transactions, in a conversation on the 20 th May 2004, he referred to bringing substantial numbers of mobile phones into the country “and don't pay the VAT and all that shit…” He suggested, once again that the sort of sums involved were in the region of a million pounds. This was a clear reference to what is sometimes known as a carousel fraud where commodities, such as mobile phones, are either actually or notionally imported into the U.K. and then exported in such a way as to obtain VAT repayments without ever accounting for the VAT itself. He also made it clear that he was perfectly happy to deal with the proceeds of drug trafficking and once again confirmed the money laundering nature of the business that he was referring to by describing his dealings with Meghrabi in the following terms:

“I've dealt with this guy for two years, he's as sound as a pound, we've, you know he's cleaned up millions for us.”

4

Although there was no direct evidence that some at least of the monies referred to by McIntosh were the proceeds of drug trafficking, the prosecution submitted that that could be clearly inferred not only from the fact that McIntosh was prepared to assist in laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking, but also from the fact that he and his associates were arrested and ultimately convicted of drugs offences. The prosecution accept that the convictions related only to relatively small quantities of drugs; but nonetheless the evidence taken as a whole would justify the inference that the monies being talked about by McIntosh at the very least included some monies from drug trafficking.

5

This evidence resulted in the investigation of the affairs of Meghrabi, Anwoir, who was his partner with whom he had been through a form of Muslim marriage and Elmoghrabi, Meghrabi's half-brother. These enquiries included enquiries into the affairs of a bureau de change in Queensway, London, called Express FX. This had been bought by Meghrabi for a co defendant Elrayess, who worked at a bureau de change called Link FX. Elrayess was convicted on count 5 of the indictment and sentenced to fifty weeks imprisonment suspended for twelve months. His application for leave to appeal against conviction was refused by the single judge and has not been renewed.

6

As a result of those enquiries, the appellants faced an indictment containing the five counts to which we have referred. The first count charged Anwoir, Meghrabi and McIntosh with an offence relating to the sum of £740,000 in cash paid into Meghrabi's accounts for the benefit of McIntosh and his associates which were used for various property transactions. Count 2 charged Anwoir, Meghrabi, Elmoghrabi and others with an offence of money laundering between the 8 th October 2003 and the 13 th December 2004 which related to the activities of Express FX, and count 5 charged the same defendants in relation to the trading of Express FX bureau from the 14 th December 2004 to the 22 nd February 200Both these counts were based on the evidence of the pattern of trading after Express FX had been purchased. The business had previously had a turnover of approximately £70,000 a year. In the two and a half years following its purchase, the turnover was £50,000,000 much of it changed into Euros in denominations of £500 Euro notes. As to £15,000,000 there were no records. Substantial numbers of false invoices were discovered in particular involving a company called Danasgate, and others, which the prosecution suggested were completely fictitious in the sense that either the company in question did not exist, or it denied having been involved in the relevant transactions.

7

Count 3 charged Anwoir and Meghrabi in relation to transactions between Link FX and Express FX. Finally, count 4 charged McIntosh and Meghrabi in relation to a proposed transaction involving money from Spain which was the proceeds of drug trafficking.

8

Anwoir, McIntosh and Meghrabi gave evidence. Although she appreciated that large amounts of cash were passing through Meghrabi's hands, and the two bureaus, Anwoir believed that these were all legitimately earned sums of money, mainly from the Saudi royal family for services such as car hire and rented chauffeur driven cars. In relation to the bureau, she was simply a cashier, had no organisational or managerial role, and was not responsible for keeping the records. Although she accepted that her initials appeared on a number of transaction records, there were 118 transactions bearing her initials between the 9 th and 24 th March 2005 when she could prove that she was in Australia.

9

As far as McIntosh was concerned, his account was that he had indeed been involved in property transactions but they were entirely legitimate. He also accepted that he had talked to Meghrabi about transactions involving very substantial sums of money, particularly cash which Meghrabi wished to invest, for example in Spain, which was the explanation for the discussions which formed the basis of count 4. He believed that Meghrabi dealt in a substantial way with the Saudi royal family or at least with Arabs, and that most of the business was dealt with in cash.

10

Meghrabi stated that he had legitimate business dealings with wealthy Arab clients including the Saudi royal family which generated a substantial amount of cash. As far as he was concerned the money which was used for the property transactions was entirely legitimate money; and he had no reason to suspect that the money coming back from McIntosh represented the proceeds of crime. The Spanish transaction was also legitimate. He accepted that he had invested in Express FX, but denied that he had any substantial part to play in the way it was run. His half-brother, Elmoghrabi, worked in the bureau and was an experienced currency trader. He knew nothing of the false invoices, or the transactions which were not recorded.

11

Elmoghrabi did not give evidence, but in cross examination his counsel put his case, which was that, contrary to what Meghrabi said, all the currency deals which he arranged were on the instructions of Meghrabi and occasionally Elrayess. He was retired and was at the bureau simply to pass time after his retirement. He accepted that he had loaned money which was used to buy the bureau.

The Grounds of Appeal

12

We propose first to deal with the two grounds of appeal which relate to the indictment generally. In so far as no leave had been granted to argue these grounds, we granted leave at the beginning of the hearing. The first ground is...

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