Barnstaple pensioner had �60,000 stashed in pants

A 68-year-old North Devon man, who concealed almost �60,000 of cash in his underpants in an attempt to smuggle it out of the country, was jailed for four years yesterday (Wednesday).  John Anthony Maurice, a semi-retired property salesman of Bishops Tawto

A 68-year-old North Devon man, who concealed almost �60,000 of cash in his underpants in an attempt to smuggle it out of the country, was jailed for four years yesterday (Wednesday).

John Anthony Maurice, a semi-retired property salesman of Bishops Tawton, pleaded guilty to almost �4 million in money laundering offences following an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The investigation began in June 2008 after a customs' detector dog showed an interest in Maurice as he was waiting to board a ferry from Dover to France. When challenged, Maurice produced 63,000 euros and �2,600 sterling from his underpants.

Robert Alder, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC said: "Maurice claimed he was exchanging money on behalf of his clients who wished to purchase furniture for their Spanish properties. Once the exchange had taken place he would return the cash to his clients. Throughout our enquiry Maurice refused to disclose the identities of his clients and there was no evidence to support any of his claims.


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"Today's sentence sends a clear message to those tempted to launder money that they are taking a serious risk. I would encourage anyone with information relating to this type of crime to call our 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000 and help us to stamp it out."

During the investigation, codenamed Operation Agnail, evidence was uncovered that between April 2005 and June 2008, Maurice used a money exchange bureau in Worthing approximately 180 times, where he would exchange large amounts of cash from sterling into Euros. He claimed that he would receive a better rate of exchange for bulk purchases, but in truth the rate was no different to that which anybody else would receive. Once the exchange had taken place, he would travel to Dover and cross the channel.

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In sentencing, Her Honour Judge Adele Williams said: "You have been living a double life of Jekyll and Hyde, respectable on the surface and dishonest conduct underneath. You must have engaged in serous criminality. Were it not for your age, previous good character and health, your sentence would have been much longer.

"The Crown describe you as a 'professional courier and converter', with which I agree. I also commend the officers who conducted this detailed investigation with such skill."

Confiscation of assets is being sought.

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