LONDON: A British court Friday found a former postman who perpetrated a 20 million-pound fraud by stealing thousands of cheque books and selling them to money launderers guilty and sentenced him to 61/2 years in prison. Police said he used the money to fund a luxurious life style.
Police told the Harrow crown court that Dido Mayue Belezika, 34, a Congolese asylum seeker and resident of Camden, north London, used to intercept cheque books over a period of three years from the postal sorting office where he worked, while his brother-in-law Ishiaba Kasonga, 40, also an immigrant from Congo, sold them to a group of money launderers.
The court found Kasonga guilty and sentenced to 3-1/2 years in jail.
It is estimated that nearly 1,500 cheque books were stolen from the Golders Green area of north London alone.
Detective Inspector Murray Duffin, who conducted the investigations said Belezika while purporting to be living a modest lifestyle earning quite a low wage was actually, through his criminality, having a lavish lifestyle.
As much as 5 million pounds have been pilfered from 1,300 "mainly Jewish" residents in north London areas of Golders Green, one of London's most affluent areas, the police said.
Belezika had frequented luxury car showrooms, top-class jewellers and Savile Row shops. He wore 10,000-pound Rolexes, had wads of 50-pound notes in his wallet and liked hand-made shoes valuing as much as 1,400 pounds.
The duo was arrested by the police after a series of synchronised raids across the country in an operation codenamed Bangor. Several expensive vehicles were attached and luxury goods recovered from the places could fill a shop.
In view of the large scale of the scam, the police had concentrated on the Golders Green area. This would have led to hundreds of other suspects involved in the fraud go scot free.
Belezika, married and father of four, admitted 12 counts of cheque book theft between April 2004 and April this year, but the police believe it would have been much more spanning three years. He pleaded guilty to 13 offences of using stolen credit cards and asked for 56 similar charges to be considered.
Kasonga admitted to conspiring to conceal criminal property. He was accused of farming out the stolen checks and credit cards to a gang of about 220 money-launderers.
Passing the sentence, Judge Ronald Moss told Mayue-Belezika: "We expect our postmen to be honest ... the dishonest few like you cause enormous problems and public loss of confidence."
He added that Belezika, granted asylum in the U.K. on plea that he feared persecution in Congo, should be immediately deported after his release from the prison, because he posed a threat to the society.
on : Sun, 25 Dec 2005 20:05 GMT | General News
By : Anne Philips