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Home / Latest News / Sports fan turned £8m money launderer is jailed

Sports fan turned £8m money launderer is jailed

A child chorister who grew up to become a multi-million-pound fraudster has been jailed for four years, as the court revealed a large amount of cash is still missing.

Gareth Child, 38, withdrew £200,000 in cash from banks in Cardiff over just two weeks in 2010 – and a judge at Cardiff Crown Court said Child is now the only person who knows where that money is.

In April he was convicted by a jury of five charges of money laundering involving around £8m and one count of fraud.

Huge sums of criminal money were moved abroad by him and others, with some of it coming back to the UK as commission.

The court earlier heard Child was a fantasist who was “blinded by his own ambition” and was always coming up with schemes, including plans for financing sports stars from abroad.

The police officer who tracked him down said outside of court that Child was “obsessed” with sport and had used his stolen money to buy season tickets for Glamorgan Cricket Club worth £150.

He was even heard in recorded phone calls calmly chatting about cricket to a worker at a London-based foreign exchange company as he used them to launder millions of pounds of money out of the country.

Detective Constable Ian Roche, a financial investigator at South Wales Police’s economic crime unit, said Child had been a “bit of a dreamer” who longed to set up business as a sports agent but actually spent most of his time sat in the pub watching sports.

DC Roche and his colleagues Robert Cummings and the HMRC’s Tim Cook first became aware of Child’s activities when Westland Helicopters, a large helicopter manufacturer in Yeovil, Somerset, realised it had been defrauded by £1.3m.

It emerged Child had written to the company in December 2010 pretending to be from one of their suppliers, Serco, saying the company had changed its bank account and including the bank details of his co-accused, Geoffrey Wildy’s company Electroworld, in the letter. Wildy, 69, was later cleared by a court.

Westland only realised what was happening in January 2011 when Serco contacted them asking why they hadn’t been paid.

DC Roche and his team were able to trace the money to Electroworld, where they found Child had transferred £700,000 to two companies that he was a director of, Vision Autos Ltd and SNG Vehicle Control Ltd.

Child then spent two weeks taking £200,000 out of cash points all around Cardiff, as well as laundering £290,000 to an account in Sierra Leone.

He and Wildy were arrested in dawn raids at their modest Cardiff homes in March 2011.

And when investigators started going through phone records and several hundred documents relating to Child’s companies, they discovered other frauds and money laundering worth more than £8m and dating back to September 2009.

“I expected to possibly discover more criminal activity but I certainly hadn’t expected it on that scale, not on that level of criminality” said DC Roche.

Between September 2009 and March 2010, Child had sent £64,000 to accounts in Gibraltar and Scandinavia to avoid paying VAT and, around the same time, had laundered £6m for other criminals through foreign exchange companies in London to Norway, Denmark and Sweden – in one case taking a £27,000 commission for his work.

He had also attempted to defraud a company in the Warwickshire town of Rugby by faking a letter from them to their bank manager, asking for £756,000 to be transferred into the account of his company Vision Autos. In that case, the bank manager contacted the company and the transaction was stopped.

In September 2010 he also laundered £69,000 stolen by a second person, who re-mortgaged a Birmingham family’s house while they were at a wedding in India.

But it was the £1.3m Westland fraud that finally led police to his front door.

In court, Child’s defence team claimed he was an innocent who had been “dazzled by opportunity” and led into shark-infested waters.

But DC Roche said Child’s crime was not a victimless one.

He said: “There are people who rely on these companies for jobs. They also have many contractors whose employees also rely on them for jobs. It is not a victimless crime.”

A Proceeds of Crime investigation is under way and part of the sentence passed yesterday by Judge Patrick Curran QC included a Financial Reporting Order, under which Child will have to disclose his assets and details of all bank accounts to police every six months for the next 10 years.

He is also banned from being a company director for the same period of time.

Passing sentence, Judge Curran said while Child may have been influenced by others who were more expert in fraud, he had willingly allowed himself to be used.

Handing down four separate terms ranging from two to four years, the judge said they would run concurrently because to order then to be served consecutively would he “disproportionate for a man of your character, age and situation”.

 

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