Defendant unanimously acquitted of £12 million money laundering duty evasion fraud

Tuesday 11 January 2022

Nerida Harford-Bell of the Garden Court Chambers Financial Crime Team represented Michael Howard, instructed by Ghulam Sohail of MPR Solicitors Hounslow.

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The second defendant in a £12 million money laundering duty evasion fraud case was unanimously acquitted by a jury on 10 January 2022, after an 8-week trial, at Southwark Crown Court. Michael Howard, represented by Nerida Harford-Bell, was the manager of an Under Bond dealer. Mr Howard's boss, Jon Porter was convicted of money laundering.

The prosecution had alleged Mr Howard was jointly responsible, with Mr Porter, for an elaborate and long-running duty evasion fraud whereby criminal property and the proceeds of smuggled alcohol, was being laundered through the Under Bond company bank accounts. Mr Howard was also said to have enjoyed the profits of this enterprise along with Mr Porter.

The defence argued that Mr Howard simply counted the cash and arranged for it to be banked and that he believed it was a bona fide company, to which he was recruited originally to drive trucks full of alcohol to France. His defence lawyers further argued that Mr Howard was unaware of the illegitimate nature of the business and believed the profits to be legitimately earned.

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