THE FORMER owner of a pub in Whitby has been jailed for two years after he was convicted of money laundering.
Ian David Smith (67) helped fraudsters to launder more than half a million pounds through his luxury cottage rental and horse and carriage businesses.
Until 1998 Mr Smith was director of Manxguard Ltd, a property development company which owns the building, but not the business, that is currently the Pier Inn on Pier Road.
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.”
Mr Smith, from Cropton in 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.
Sentencing on 29 June, His Honour Judge James said: “Without people like you, criminals would not be able to hide their profits and you fell prey to temptation.”
His customers included a gang of convicted tobacco smugglers and a prolific mortgage fraudster, who he helped by purchasing property and vehicles using the illicit cash.
Mr 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 monies would then be paid back to the criminals at a later date, after taking a fee for his role in the transaction.
“Money laundering is a serious crime and HMRC is committed to tackling the movement of criminal profit,” added Mr Brown.
“Money is the lifeblood of crime and we will look to prosecute anyone involved in helping to hide dirty cash.”
Mr Smith lives in a £3 million farmhouse estate near Pickering and runs a number of successful family businesses. These include Beckhouse Carriages, based in Stockton-upon-Tess, which provides luxury horse and carriages for weddings, funerals and feature films. He also owns a luxury cottage rental business based in his hometown of Cropton.
Mr Smith was arrested in September 2007 following an investigation by HMRC and pleaded guilty to money laundering at a Canterbury Crown Court hearing in May.