Two arms dealers convicted for trading illegally in military goods without trade control licences

Article Date: 11 March 2010

1. Details of the case
Two British arms dealers from London traded thousands of bombs, weapons, munitions and riot control equipment to war-torn countries around the world without UK licences. 58 year old Gideon Sarig and 64 year old Howard Freckleton were both found guilty at Southwark Crown court on 8th February 2010 of trading in controlled goods with the intent to evade export controls.    
Both Sarig, of Maida Vale, and Freckleton, of Enfield had denied the charges, but were found guilty by a unanimous verdict. Sarig was found guilty on 12 counts and was jailed for nine years while Freckleton was found guilty of three counts, and received seven years. The case followed a two year investigation by officers from HMRC’s specialist weapons counter-proliferation team, “Customs AB”.
Sentencing, Judge James Wadsworth QC said “…you have both knowingly traded in large amounts of ammunition for totally war-like, destructive and death-dealing use…. you both knew exactly what you were doing”
Both Sarig and Freckleton were found guilty of providing one thousand, 500lb high-explosive bombs to the Sri-Lankan air force in 2005. The bombs were equipped with proximity fuses, specially designed to detonate just above the ground for maximum devastation. The pair also provided the Sri-Lankans with 3900 rounds of 30mm armour-piercing incendiary ammunition, designed to tear through armour before bursting into flames. Freckleton was also found guilty for a further supply of 17,000 rounds of high explosive, tracer and armour piercing ammunition in 2007, again to the Sri-Lankan Air-force.
Sarig’s illegal dealing went further, and prosecutors showed how he supplied hundreds of pump-action shotguns and ammunition, Uzi sub machine guns and over 5,000 anti-riot shields, to various countries including Israel, Venezuela, Senegal, Peru, Nigeria, and Gabon with complete disregard to UK law.
Judge Wadsworth said “The amount of death these goods would cause - particularly the bombs to be used within Sri-Lanka, is quite horrendous”.
2. Official Comments
Peter Millroy, Head of HMRC’s specialist unit on military exports said “These were flagrant breaches of UK trade controls on the supply of military equipment between third countries, some of which were, or were close to areas of armed conflict. Gideon Sarig and Howard Freckleton were both arms brokers who committed a series of offences in pursuit of the enormous profits to be made. This result reflects the gravity of the criminal activity they were engaged in. HM Revenue & Customs will relentlessly pursue and seek to prosecute those who evade the UK’s export and trade controls in this way.“
Confiscation proceedings were initiated.
The Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003, came into force on 1 May 2004, and prohibits the trade in controlled goods between third countries outside the UK by UK nationals.  In 2009, this order was consolidated and amended by the Export Control Order 2008 (which also includes provisions for controlling trade in controlled goods).
3. Prosecuting Authority
The case was prosecuted on behalf of HMRC by the Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS is an independent prosecuting authority. It reports directly to the Attorney General and is responsible for prosecuting some of the largest drug and fraud cases in the UK.
4. Wider Advice for Exporters
Exporters must take their export control responsibilities seriously and ensure full compliance with the regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to assure themselves that destinations for export are not subject to sanctions or embargoes incorporating export controls - in cases of doubt exporters should contact the ECO. As this and other recent cases show, HMRC and RCPO can and will take action to enforce the controls.

This notice is for information purposes only and has no force in law.  Please note that where legal advice is required exporters should make their own arrangements.


Return to News Index

Call us now on: +44 (0)1254 356400 for more information