Updated with sentence: Three men jailed for supplying fraudulent passports to criminals
Three men who played major roles in supplying fraudulent passports to some of the most serious organised criminals have been jailed.
Christopher Zietek, 67, of Sydenham, London, Anthony Beard, 61, of Lewisham, London, and Alan Thompson, 72, of Sutton, Surrey, have been sentenced at Reading Crown Court today (16 May 2023) to eight years, six years and eight months, and three years imprisonment respectively.
Zietek and Thompson were found guilty of being involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to make fraudulent passports and Latvian ID documents and money laundering following a trial at Reading Crown Court on 17 March 2023.
Beard pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to make fraudulent documents prior to the trial on 3 January 2023.
The defendants were involved in a criminal enterprise which provided fraudulent UK passports and ID documents to criminals trying to evade justice, enabling them to cross borders and conduct illegal business undetected. The alleged crimes of those they assisted ranged from drug trafficking to murder.
The group specialised in supplying fraudulently-obtained genuine passports (FOGs) – documents which are issued authentically but have been applied for using false information. The result is a seemingly legitimate document, making FOGs highly sought after by criminals worldwide.
Zietek played a leading role in the operation by exploiting his criminal connections to obtain clients, whilst Beard was heavily involved in the processing of FOGs.
Thompson worked closely with Zietek doing everything from chauffeuring him to criminal meetings to performing necessary tasks for the brokering of FOG passports.
The illegal enterprise would source individuals who were willing to sell their personal details for passport applications and would then pay someone else to countersign the fraudulent application. The FOGs were then supplied to their criminal clients.
The group later became involved in providing criminals with international documentation in the form of forged Latvian passports.
The CPS worked closely with the National Crime Agency (NCA) prior to charging the case, right through to conviction following a thorough investigation by NCA officers. The NCA also collaborated with HM Passport Office to identify the applications made by the group.
It was clear from the evidence collected in this case that the defendants knew they were assisting criminals to evade justice.
Clients of theirs included Jordan Owen who was arrested in Portugal in December 2019 before the FOG could be handed over to him, he was later jailed for 23 years for murder, and Michael Moogan – one of the UK’s most wanted fugitives who was on the run for eight years, before being arrested in Dubai in April 2021 for conspiring to import Class A drugs.
Giorgina Venturella, Specialist prosecutor for the CPS, said: “The service provided by the defendants in this organised crime group enabled serious criminals, including drug and firearm traffickers and murderers, to go on the run as fugitives to evade detection and conduct criminal business internationally under false identities.
“Following collaboration with the NCA, the CPS was able to build a strong case resulting in their conviction, disrupting a major organised crime network and helping to dismantle their illegal operation.”
Craig Turner, NCA Deputy Director, said: “This organised crime group supplied fraudulent passports that enabled some of the UK’s most serious and dangerous criminals to operate internationally under false identities and pose a sustained threat to the public.
“The investigation demonstrates the NCA’s unique role in tackling the most serious and complex crime threats facing the UK. We have identified a chronic, under the radar conspiracy that enabled drug and firearm traffickers, murderers and fugitives to evade justice, and we have worked across borders to dismantle it and the bring the masterminds to account.
“The NCA continues to protect the UK from the serious and organised criminals who present a threat to our security, people and economy.”
Zietek and Thompson appeared on trial at Reading Crown Court alongside four other co-defendants who were acquitted by a jury.
Notes to editors
- Giorgina Venturella is the Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID)
- Christopher Zietek AKA Christopher McCormack (DOB: 1/10/55) of Sydenham, London, was convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, money laundering and two counts of conspiracy to make a false instrument on 17 March 2023 following a trial at Reading Crown Court
- Anthony Beard (DOB: 14/12/61) of Lewisham, London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to make a false instrument on 3 January 2023.
- Alan Thompson (DOB: 16/06/50) of Sutton, London was convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, money laundering and two counts of conspiracy to make a false instrument on 17 March 2023 following a trial at Reading Crown Court