Former glamour model ‘helped smuggle £5m into Dubai in suitcases’
A FORMER glamour model helped smuggle suitcases rammed with £5million in cash from the UK to Dubai, a court was told.
Jo-Emma Larvin, 44, has been accused of hiding dirty money in luggage before flying it out from London Heathrow on two occasions.
Smugglers would be paid around £3,000 plus expenses, Isleworth Crown Court heard, with Larvin’s partner Jonathan Johnson, 55, also alleged to have travelled with her on the second trip.
Prosecutors said the couple carried £2.8million in September 2020 across eight cases. A month prior, Larvin and co-accused Amy Harrison, 27, were claimed to have smuggled an estimated £2.2million in seven cases.
Larvin and Johnson, both of Ripon, North Yorkshire, were arrested in March last year. Both deny removing criminal property from the UK along with three co-accused – Harrison, of Worcester Park, Surrey, Beatrice Auty, 26, of Fulham, west London, and Liam Rabone, 29, of West Kensington, west London.
The court heard that members of the smuggling ring would fly business class so that more luggage could be taken with them.
Auty allegedly took three trips to Dubai but has only been charged with attempting to remove criminal cash on the third, after the cases were intercepted by the National Crime Agency. She is also accused of assisting a further 11 trips.
Harrison is accused of two other trips as well as the one she made with Larvin, smuggling around £6million in total. Rabone is accused of taking three trips with a similar total.
Julian Christopher KC, prosecuting, said: ‘Each of the defendants is alleged to have played a significant part in the transportation of very large amounts of cash – English and Scottish banknotes – to Dubai from Heathrow. Millions of pounds worth, carried in suitcases checked in as luggage as they were flying as passengers.’
Mr Christopher said the defendants’ involvement would ‘likely not be in dispute’ but jurors would need
‘Paid £3,000 plus expenses per trip’
to decide firstly whether the money was from the proceeds of crime, and secondly whether the accused ‘knew or suspected it was’.
The court heard that the organiser, Abdulla Alfalasi, arranged 83 successful trips over 18 months – of which the defendants were involved in 16. Two more were unsuccessful.
Mr Christopher added: ‘The total removed in those 83 occasions is in the region of £100millon.’
Anything over £10,000 leaving the UK has to be declared to HMRC. Mr Christopher said the suitcases would typically contain up to £500,000.
‘If these were declared at Heathrow the likelihood is that they would be detained until the source of the money could be determined,’ he added. ‘So the people carrying the cash had to keep quiet as they checked the cases in.’
Jurors heard that the defendants would declare the cash once arriving in Dubai, handing over a letter authorising them to carry it from a company called Ominvest – owned by Alfalasi. Sometimes authorities would check the amount and give them a currency declaration form.
Mr Christopher said: ‘Then the couriers would have a few days in Dubai before flying back with cases that were very considerably lighter than when they went out. Their expenses were paid for, and they were paid something like £3,000 each for the trip.’ The trial continues.