Operation Rize – Jail for trio who helped stash criminals cash and drugs – Staff at Safe Deposits Centres Ltd ‘complicit'

Thursday, 10th March 2011

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Published: 10 March 2011
by JAMIE WELHAM

TWO company directors who let crime gangs stash guns and drugs in lock-up safes in Hampstead have been jailed.

Milton Woolf, 55, from Golders Green and Jacqueline Swan, 47, from Barnet, concealed weapons and drugs, along with other criminal proceeds in depositories run by their company Safe Deposits Centres Limited.

They were sentenced to a combined total of five and half years at Southwark Crown Court, along with former director Leslie Sieff, 63, from Fortune Green, after admitting offences including money laundering and possession of a firearm. The case followed a massive police operation in 2009, codenamed “Rize”, in which more than 500 officers smashed their way into thousands of safes in Finchley Road, Park Lane and Edgware. 

The investigation found staff were complicit in helping criminals store their booty and charged them thousands of pounds, in what they had built up into the biggest safe deposit firm in Britain.

Speaking after Monday’s sentencing, Det Supt Mark Ponting from the Met’s economic and specialist crime unit, 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.

“The Met remains determined to tackle serious and organised crime at all levels – and that includes those who act more subtly in the background but who are often the key facilitators for those who commit serious crime.”

Officers seized contents from 3,497 boxes following the raids in June 2009. They unearthed items including fake passports, child pornography and crack cocaine as well as £56million in cash.

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