George Alexander Cropped 231118 CREDIT HMRC

Pensioner Jailed For Shipping Fighter Jet Parts To Iran

Alexander George trafficked military items in violation of Weapons of Mass Destruction controls.

George Alexander Cropped 231118 CREDIT HMRC

Alexander George (Picture: HMRC)

A British pensioner has been jailed after shipping fighter jet parts to Iran for an estimated £5 million profit, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said.

Alexander George used companies he had set up in Malaysia and Dubai to traffic military items, including Russian MiG and US F4 Phantom parts - in violation of Weapons of Mass Destruction controls.

The 77-year-old, from Long Ashton in Bristol, was jailed at the Old Bailey for two-and-a-half years on Thursday and disqualified from being a company director for nine years, HMRC said.

He had purchased the aircraft parts from the United States and then sent them to his companies in Malaysia and Dubai, before illegally sending them on to Iran.

He denied the charges and told police when he was questioned at Heathrow Airport in 2010 that he had been dealing in wheelbarrows, goggles and gloves for the construction industry, rather than aircraft parts.

His conviction follows that of Paul Attwater, 65, and his 66-year-old wife Iris last month, HMRC said.

The pair, from Telford in Shropshire, were given suspended six-month prison sentences for sourcing dual-use aircraft parts - those which could be used by both the military and civilian sectors - from the US and shipping them to George's companies abroad, which then sent them to Iran.

George had used the Attwaters, who operated Pairs Aviation Limited from Crawley in West Sussex, as a "buffer" when he suspected he may be being investigated, HMRC said.

The couple had originally denied the charges against them, before Paul Attwater changed his plea towards the end of the trial.

The department said controls and enforcement around weapons of mass destruction is a priority for the Government, which operates a strict licensing system to ensure such equipment does not end up in the wrong hands.

The department's investigation uncovered "elaborate" attempts by the trio to avoid detection.

Simon York, director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: "These three sold banned items that ended up in Iran. They didn't care what these parts might be used for, as long as they got paid.

"This was a calculated and cynical attempt to undermine strict trade embargoes and internationally agreed controls. They knew the rules and weaved increasingly elaborate plans to stay under the radar.

"This case, and these sentences, send a clear warning to others that if you try and shift illegal goods to sanctioned and embargoed countries - we will catch you and you will face justice."

While George is estimated to have made profits of more than £5 million from the illegal sales, the Attwaters are thought to have made £500,000 profit, HMRC added.

It said action to recover the money, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, will follow.