A BUSINESSMAN from Yorkshire who helped fraudsters to launder more than half a million pounds has been jailed for two years.
Ian David Smith, 67, of Cropton, Pickering, admitted helping criminals hide their illicit profits by falsely putting them through the books of his family luxury cottage rental and horse and carriage businesses in an attempt to make the cash look legitimate.
His customers included a gang of convicted tobacco smugglers and a prolific mortgage fraudster he helped by purchasing property and vehicles using the illicit cash.
Smith provided his “clients” with fake invoices, putting the money through the company books to make it look as though they had paid for goods. The cash would then be paid back to the criminals at a later date, after taking a fee for his role in the transaction, an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs found.
Assistant director for HMRC Martin Brown said: “Ian Smith helped career criminals launder their illicit gains.
“He risked everything in exchange for money and as a result is paying the price for becoming involved in the criminal underworld.
“Money is the lifeblood of crime and we will look to prosecute anyone involved in helping to hide dirty cash.”
Smith, who lives in a £3m farmhouse estate in North Yorkshire, runs a number of successful family businesses, including Beckhouse Carriages based in Stockton-on- Tees, which provides luxury horse and carriages for weddings, funerals, feature films and television dramas.
He also owns a luxury cottage rental business based in Cropton.
Smith was arrested in September 2007 and pleaded guilty to money laundering at a hearing at Canterbury Crown Court in May this year.
He was yesterday sentenced to two years in prison and disqualified from being a company director for five years. He was also ordered to pay £199,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and £75,000 costs.