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Petra Ecclestone's ex James Stunt accused of being part of £266m money-laundering scheme
3 May 2022, 16:08
James Stunt, the socialite and former husband of heiress Petra Ecclestone, has gone on trial accused of being part of a £266 million money-laundering scheme.
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Stunt, who split from Ms Ecclestone in 2017, is one of eight defendants charged with money laundering involving depositing cash in the account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield.
Prosecutors say the cash was brought into business addresses owned or managed by the defendants between January 2014 and September 2016.
The court heard the money was carried in sports bags, carrier bags and holdalls in hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time - and all paid into the bank account of Fowler Oldfield.
Jurors were told West Yorkshire Police launched Operation Larkshot - an investigation into large amounts of cash being credited to the bank account of Fowler Oldfield collected from three sites - Fowler Oldfield's own premises, the offices of James Stunt in central London and a new company called Pure Nines in Hatton Garden.
Prosecutor Nicholas Clarke QC said substantial amounts of cash were being paid into a bank account of Fowler Oldfield Limited from 2014.
Mr Clarke said it was "blindingly obvious this was criminal cash", with some deposits of over £1 million a day in used notes.
He told jurors they aroused the suspicions of bank staff because "they were of such an amount, on a daily basis, as may come from a Premier League football stadium on a match day or similar size venue or event".
Five defendants from Fowler Oldfield - Greg Frankel, Daniel Rawson, Paul Miller, Heidi Buckler and Haroon "Harry" Rashid - all say the prosecution cannot prove that any of the cash was criminal property.
The other defendants - Stunt, Alexander Tulloch and Francesca Sota - say they "don't know whether it was", Mr Clarke said.
He told jurors: "The prosecution say this is nonsense... Each of them must at the very least have suspected that the source of the money was criminal in origin - it could not have come from a legitimate source and no legitimate source has ever been identified for it."
The prosecution say cash from "a lot of criminal activity" was collected together and taken to Fowler Oldfield in Bradford, West Yorkshire, sometimes via businesses in London.
Mr Clarke said: "These defendants then hid its origin by washing it through a company bank account and using the proceeds to buy gold."
Police found that between August and September 2016 daily cash deposits ranged between £787,540 and £2,424,380, with an average of £1,706,823, jurors heard.
The wider investigation discovered that from January 1 2014 until September 16 2016, more than £266 million in cash and unknown deposits were paid into the Fowler Oldfield bank account.
The court heard that after the cash had credited the bank account it was transferred mainly to two Birmingham gold suppliers, Cookson Precious Metals Limited and Metalor Technologies (UK) Limited to buy gold.
Forty six million pounds was also transferred into an account in the name of James Stunt's company, Stunt & Co Ltd.
Mr Clarke said CCTV footage shows that during August and September 2016, couriers from all over the UK attended Fowler Oldfield with heavy bags of cash.
Stunt, 40, Buckler, 45, Frankel, 44, Miller, 45, Rashid, 51, Rawson, 45, Sota, 34, and Tulloch, 41, all deny money laundering. Stunt and Sota also deny forgery.