Jewellery, watches, a luxury house and ?143,000 in a Gibraltar bank account

LONDON: The British government's asset recovery agency says that a settlement has been reached in a case that the agency claimed concerned assets acquired from handling stolen goods and other offences, including the recovery of ?143,000 held in a Gibraltar bank account.

The Assets Recovery Agency, in a Press release, says it has reached a settlement with Ronald David Barry, previously residing at Gerrards Cross, for assets that the Agency contended had been acquired from handling stolen goods, trading in counterfeit items and VAT and tax evasion.

Jewellery and watches hidden around Mr Barry?s luxury home have already been auctioned on behalf of the Agency raising a net total of ?14,300. The house itself has been sold and ?507,000 remitted to the agency.

It adds that "?143,000 held in a Gibraltar bank account has been transferred to the Agency."

Watches and other jewellery with an estimated value of ?33,000 are still to be sold.

HIDDEN GEMS

At Blackfriars crown court in November 2002, Mr Barry was convicted of dishonestly receiving a stolen Rolex Oyster watch and was fined ?3,000. A search of Mr Barry?s home address by the Metropolitan Police during their investigations in July 2001 uncovered a quantity of jewellery, watches and watch parts and precious stones hidden in various places including drawers in the kitchen, above the oven, in a void in a chest of drawers in the bedroom, under the bed and in the loft. Some of the jewellery and watches had been ?modified? by erasing original markings and/or adding new identification marks. A further search in January 2002 uncovered another haul of jewellery concealed in places such as inside curtains in the bedroom, in a void behind a bidet and inside cereal packets.

The Agency was granted an Interim Receiving Order on 3 October 2003. The Interim Receiver conducted an independent investigation into the assets held by Mr Barry and his wife. As part of that investigation, Mr Barry?s home was searched and a large amount of jewellery and some fake ?luxury? watches were seized. During that search, a copy of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 was found in Mr Barry?s bedside cabinet.

CASH BASIS

The Interim Receiver concluded that Mr Barry, who operated his jewellery business on a cash basis with scant business records, had acquired assets that were, on the balance of probabilities, acquired through unlawful activity. The respondents, on receiving the Interim Receivers report in February 2004, indicated that they were prepared to come to a settlement. "This turned out to be a protracted process as the respondents changed their solicitors part way through the proceedings and also had difficulty in obtaining legal funding," says the statement.

Jane Earl, Director of the Agency said: ?This case illustrates how our powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act can be used to ensure that crime will not pay. It has taken some time to come to fruition and we have learned valuable lessons about what tactics our respondents might employ to delay proceedings.?

European Liberal group wants equal treatment for Gibraltar on civil aviation matters

The European Liberal group, headed by Gibraltar MEP Graham Watson, will urge in the European Parliament today that he policy excluding Gibraltar from civil aviation matters should end. He has called for equal treatment for Gibraltar - and is putting it to a vote.

The European Parliament will be voting on a report by Paolo Costa, ALDE MEP and Chairman of the EP Transport and Tourism Committee, on an EU regulation setting common rules on civil aviation security.

The report argues for "one-stop security" for all flights within the EU. In practice that means that security controls in one member state will be valid for all and planes arriving from third countries will only undergo security control at their first EU stop.

"I believe that the regulation should apply to Gibraltar's airport despite the legal stand off between the UK and Spain. This would be the first EU transport rule from which Gibraltar will not be excluded and is the first step towards ending Gibraltar's legislative isolation" said the European Liberal Democrat Leader Graham Watson.

"I hope that our proposal will be backed by a Parliamentary majority. Gibraltar deserves equal treatment to the rest of the EU and tomorrow our efforts to secure it will finally take off"," he added.

Gibraltar has been excluded from European air matters unless it applies the 1987 airport deal, which all Gibraltar parties have opposed since since.

If there is a breakthrough now, it will be good news for Gibraltar.



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