Convictions following money laundering operation

HSE

A Stoke-on-Trent haulage boss and five other defendants have been found guilty of running a large-scale money laundering operation involving more than £100m in cash.

Disqualified director Marcus Hughes was convicted of conspiracy to launder cash at Stoke Crown Court last month, together with transport planners Leon Woolley and Liam Bailey, drivers Nicholas Fern and Damion Morgan and business associate Simon Davies.

Hughes was the effective operator of Genesis 2014 UK, a haulage firm that had its licence revoked in 2021 for the second time in three years.

The Regional Organised Crime Unit for the West Midlands became aware of a criminal operation to launder cash through the haulage firm, with Hughes using global encrypted phone network Encrochat to communicate with a man in Dubai – convicted fraudster Craig Johnson.

A deal was struck that large sums of cash would be collected at various UK locations with the intention of transporting it to London, where it could be transferred onwards and legitimised.

The total amount of cash was between £100m and £150m.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said French authorities had broken into Encrochat and reported activity to their British counterparts.

On 26 March 2021, two Genesis vehicles were stopped separately and each was found to contain substantial amounts of cash – totalling around £700,000. Hughes was arrested the same day and £60,000 was recovered from his home.

Jonathan Kelleher of the CPS said: “The defendants were involved in the wholesale haulage of huge quantities of criminal cash, totalling in excess of £100m.

“They were an essential distribution part of the criminal network, transferring the cash proceeds of criminal activity for the wider benefit of organised criminals, as well as their own gain.

Last year, TC Nick Denton heard how Hughes was still playing a significant managerial role at Genesis 2014 UK, despite directors Helen Walker and Tracy Greening – Hughes’ life partner – agreeing to ensure he had no influence or control over the firm.

Hughes was disqualified in 2018 for failing to inform the TC of his 12-year prison sentence for supplying cannabis.

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