CROOKED directors of an Edgware storage centre who allowed organised criminals to stash away guns, drugs, fake passports and money have been jailed.
The trio ran Safe Deposits Centres Limited, which counted the Edgware Safe Depository in High Street, Edgware, among its three branches that were raided by police in June 2008 and found to be hiding bundles of illegitimate cash, illegal weapons, fraudulent identity documents and images of child abuse.
Officers opened each of the 6,700 boxes and it turned out to be the largest operation ever launched by the Metropolitan Police.
One Edgware box contained a Brocock handgun, eight rounds of ammunition, drugs and approx £20,000 in cash.
The customer, John Derriviere, admitted possession of firearm and ammunition, possession of drugs with intent to supply and Proceeds of Crime Act offences regarding the cash and was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.
Cash totalling £100,000 was found in another box belonging to a man who was sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment for possession with intent to supply class A drugs and money laundering.
Then a brother and sister were sentenced within a week of each other in September last year for a string of fraud, theft and identity act offences following the discovery of three forged Nigerian passports and more than £99,000 in another box at Edgware.
These crooks were able to get away with hiding their assets because Safe Deposits Centres ran an anonymous 'no questions asked' rental scheme for customers, and this week the bosses of the firm faced up to justice.
Director Milton Woolf, 55, of West Heath Drive, Golders Green, north London, admitted 14 offences including money laundering and possession of a firearm at Southwark Crown Court on January 20 and was sentenced on Monday (Feb 7) to 4 ½ years' jail.
The same day former colleague Jacqueline Swan, 47, of Hexham Road, Barnet, admitted seven counts of failing to disclose acts of money laundering contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 on December 16 2010 and received a year's imprisonment.
Leslie Sieff, 63, of Ranulf Road, Cricklewood, admitted possession of 60,000 counterfeit US dollars on December 1 2010 and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £750 costs.
Detective Superintendent Mark Ponting from the Metropolitan Police's Economic and Specialist Crime Command, said: "Rize was an innovative money laundering investigation targeting those who offered a service to organised crime, and in so doing has taken the proceeds of crime away from criminals and put cash back into the public purse.
"Already around £13 million has been returned to public coffers, with many more investigations outstanding.
“More than £12 million remains held within the courts and around 900 investigations have been referred to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.”