Sunday, March 06, 2011

Huge and unlawful British police operation celebrated

The tone of the report below is laudatory but much is omitted. Note for a start this excerpt from an earlier report: "Of the 6,717 boxes targeted by detectives in the biggest raid in the Met's history, just over half were occupied. And of those that were full, 2,838 boxes were now handed back, a figure that represents 80 per cent of the number of boxes seized. Eight out of ten box owners were provably innocent. Taylor said: 'Of the £53 million in cash that the police took, £20 million has also been given back and £33 million is now being referred to as "under investigation", of which only £2.83 million has been confiscated or forfeited by the courts."

In other words most of the people targeted were innocent and were subjected to great harassment in order to prove their innocence and recover their property. And police pocketed some of it in a few cases.

Of greater concern is that the right to privacy enshrined in Britain's human rights act was totally ignored. And now the proprietors of the safe deposit facilities who DID respect the right to privacy of their depositors are being treated as criminals.

For the dubious legality and police duplicity involved -- and much more beside -- see here

The directors of a 'cash and carry for crooks' will be sentenced today for running a £50million 'treasure trove' for criminals.

Milton Woolf and Jacqueline Swan funded wealthy lifestyles by charging criminal gangs tens of thousands of pounds each to store more than £50million in cash, along with firearms and child pornography linked with contract killers, drug dealers and human traffickers.

Police later seized nearly 7,000 safety deposit boxes in a £10million sting, described as one of Scotland Yard's most ambitious investigations in its 180-year history and the largest operation against organised crime.

Paintings, gold ingots, gold dust, jewellery, drugs, fraudulent passports, paedophile material and fake documents were found stashed in boxes at the fraudsters’ London headquarters.

Meanwhile, directors Woolf and Swan turned a blind eye to the illicit goods and even advised customers how to store goods in such a way that would not arouse suspicion, Southwark Crown Court was told.

Michael Holland QC, prosecuting, said: 'The directors, we say, wanted to try to adopt the "three wise monkeys" approach - hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, rather than be vigilant to report suspicious activity as they were obliged to do.'

Police launched Operation Rize, involving more than 500 officers, after detectives worked on a host of tip-offs that Safe Deposit Centres Limited was corrupt.

As a result of the operation, police made 146 arrests, 30 of them leading to convictions. Several depositors are now serving jail terms for paedophile offences, money-laundering, drug-dealing and firearms.

'It's been extremely successful, unprecedented and the largest operation against organised crime,' he said.

Woolf, 55, of West Heath Drive, Barnet, north west London, will be sentenced for 14 offences, including money-laundering and possession of a firearm, while Swan, 47, of Hexham Road, Barnet, will be sentenced for seven counts of money-laundering.

A third director, Leslie Sieff, 63, from Cricklewood, north west London, has already been fined £1,000 for possessing counterfeit 60,000 US dollars (£36,855) last December.

They were caught in June 2008 when police seized thousands of deposit boxes, ranging from small book-sized boxes to large walk-in safes in a string of west London raids.

This followed 18 months of surveillance and preparation and raids on three safe depositories, two offices and three homes.

The boxes were taken from Park Lane Safe Depository in Park Street, Hampstead Safe Depository in Finchley Road, and Edgware Safe Depository in High Street, Edgware, to a secure location in a heavily-armed convoy.

'Already around £13 million has been returned to public coffers, with many more investigations outstanding,' Mr Ponting said. ‘Eventually more than £50 million will be returned to public coffers, while around 900 investigations have been referred to Revenue and Customs.


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