LATEST NEWS: Fowler Oldfield director given use of Lamborghini and London flat in laundering deal, prosecution say

A BRADFORD jewellers went from modest takings from scrap gold to processing daily payments that were akin to coming “from a Premier League football stadium on a match day," a court heard.

The trial of eight individuals accused of washing just over £266 million in criminal cash through Fowler Oldfield officially got underway at Leeds Cloth Hall Court yesterday, after five days of legal deliberation last week.

Gregory Frankel, Daniel Rawson, Paul Miller, Heidi Buckler, James Stunt, Francesca Sota, Alexander Tulloch and Haroon Rashid, are all charged with transferring criminal property, namely cash, across a period of just over two years, between January 1, 2014 and September 30, 2016.

Stunt and Sota are also charged with with making a false instrument with intent that it be accepted as genuine, in other words, forgery.

This was said to have been on or around February 11, 2015.

The eight have pleaded not guilty to all charges put to them.

A jury of 14 were sworn in yesterday, but that number will be whittled down to 12 once the opening statements for the prosecution and defence teams are complete.

The prosecution team, headed by Nicholas Clarke QC and supported by Jonathan Savage and Helen Longworth, began their opening speech yesterday.

Mr Clarke said: "These defendants along with others laundered £266 million in cash which was in whole or in part criminal property.

"The cash itself was brought into business addresses owned and or managed by these defendants."

These addresses included Fowler Oldfield's own premises off Hall Lane, in Bradford, offices belonging to Stunt in London and premises of a new company called Pure Nines.

The court heard and saw how the alleged dirty cash was brought to Fowler Oldfield in sports bags, suitcases, a "bag for life" and even in two present boxes containing toy guns, before it was then paid into the bank account of the company.

Frankel, 44, Rawson, 45, Miller, 45, Buckler, 45, and Rashid, 51, - known universally as "Harry - were from, or particularly connected with, Fowler Oldfield, according to Mr Clarke.

Fowler Oldfield's history is significant to the whole tale, according to Mr Clarke.

It was originally a small family jewellery company that would buy, in relatively small amounts, scrap gold from the jewellery trade and then melt it down and refine it into larger amounts on site.

Mr Clarke said: "As it was operated at that level it was a real, commercial and industrial set-up."

But Fowler Oldfield's cashflow rocketed from around 2014 onwards, "like a switch had been turned", according to Mr Clarke.

The prosecutor said: "Substantial amounts of cash were being paid into a bank account of Fowler Oldfield Limited from about 2014.

"These substantial payments had aroused particular suspicions 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.

"They were far excess in the volumes that come from busy high street banks themselves.

"The payments in were getting much bigger in 2016.

"On some days, well over a million pounds in used notes was being paid in to the Fowler Oldfield account.

"In addition, the cash that was delivered by G4S or The Post Office to the bank contained an abnormally large number of Scottish notes.

"The staff who received it at the banks also noticed that it had an unusual smell."

West Yorkshire Police began an operation following this - Operation Larkshot.

When they intercepted, at Fowler Oldfield and Pure Nines on September 8, 2016, a significant amount of money was seized - more than £2 million.

This cash is still in the hands of West Yorkshire Police, which the prosecution suggests is indicative of the money's origins.

Mr Clarke said: "No individual or company has ever approached either the police or the liquidators of Fowler Oldfield to claim any of this money.

"This clearly demonstrates that not a single one of the 'owners' of that cash could show a legitimate source for it and the only sensible inference that can be drawn is that in respect of every separate deposit for which there is no legitimate source that it is in whole or in part criminal property."

The five defendants associated with Fowler Oldfield say the prosecution cannot prove any of the money was criminal property, according to Mr Clarke.

Stunt, 40, Tulloch, 41, and Sota, 34, said they “don’t know whether it was”, according to Mr Clarke.

The trial continues.