WANTED

Brit grandad sought by Span­ish cops over £60m time­share scam ‘run by Goldfin­ger’s ex-en­forcer’

The People - - NEWS FEATURES - By Dan War­bur­ton

A BRI­TISH grandad is fight­ing ex­tra­di­tion over al­le­ga­tions he helped run a £60mil­lion mafi­astyle time­share con.

In his de­fence Paul Blanchard, 73, says he was se­cretly work­ing for the Span­ish se­cret ser­vice fight­ing ter­ror.

But po­lice claim he was part of a gang led by Mo­hamed Der­bah – once the en­forcer for gang­ster John “Goldfin­ger” Palmer, who stood trial for the 1983 Brink’s-mat gold rob­bery.

Palmer and Der­bah swin­dled mil­lions out of tourists who dreamed of hol­i­day homes in the Ca­nary Isles. They fell out in the 1990s spark­ing a bloody turf war.

Le­banese-born Der­bah, 54, set up a ri­val gang and paid ac­coun­tant Paul for fi­nan­cial ad­vice.

Paul says he thought it was a “le­git­i­mate busi­ness” but when Span­ish au­thor­i­ties be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing Der­bah, who they sus­pected of fund­ing mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah, he agreed to help.

He said: “They ap­proached me when I was work­ing for Der­bah and I agreed to work with them to fight the fund­ing of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism.”

Der­bah and ten oth­ers were ar­rested in 2001 and Paul agreed to give ev­i­dence – un­til the long-run­ning case hit a hitch.

Fraud

Paul was jailed in the UK for his part in pass­port fraud, laun­der­ing £375,000 and try­ing to steal £4.3mil­lion from a Lon­don bank and trans­fer it to Spain.

He told Sh­effield crown court dur­ing his 2008 trial he was se­cretly mon­i­tor­ing the move­ment of cash for Span­ish agents.

He even says he tipped them off about a ter­ror network funded from the UK months be­fore al-qaeda bombed trains in Madrid in 2004 killing 191 peo­ple.

He in­sisted an­grily: “If Spain had acted on that in­for­ma­tion those atroc­i­ties may never have hap­pened.”

But Paul said when his trial judge asked Spain to ver­ify his claims it re­fused.

“With­out their cor­rob­o­ra­tion I had no op­tion but to plead guilty. I was aban­doned when I needed their help and went to jail for six years as a re­sult.”

Then, last year, he re­vealed: “North York­shire po­lice came to see me and asked on be­half of the Span­ish au­thor­i­ties if I was still pre­pared to tes­tify against Der­bah. I said there was no way I would even con­sider it.” In April a Euro­pean Ar­rest War­rant was is­sued by a Span­ish judge in Madrid. A copy seen by the Sun­day Peo­ple al­leges Paul was the “fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor” be­hind Der­bah’s network – hired be­cause he was ex­pert at off­shore bank­ing and knew how to laun­der mil­lions. It said the gang used “typ­i­cal mafia tech­niques” in­clud­ing “threats, ex­tor­tion and set­tling of scores” to laun­der cash, forge credit cards and per­vert the course of jus­tice. Paul – fac­ing 15 years in jail if ex­tra­dited and found guilty – called the ac­cu­sa­tions “far­ci­cal” and said the tim­ing “can hardly be a co­in­ci­dence”.

He went on “They want to ex­tra­dite me as a crim­i­nal and I have solid ev­i­dence that will prove they lied about me.

“The ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing will be em­bar­rass­ing for the Span­ish au­thor­i­ties, who claim they never called me and I never called them.

“I have more than 30 recorded phone con­ver­sa­tions with them.”

Gang­ster Palmer was nick­named Goldfin­ger af­ter ad­mit­ting he helped mur­derer Ken­neth Noye melt Brink’s-mat bul­lion af­ter the £26mil­lion raid in 1983. Palmer fled to Spain af­ter the heist and set up his time­share em­pire. He was even­tu­ally ac­quit­ted of han­dling stolen goods from the heist but served eight years for time­share fraud. At one time he was worth £300mil­lion, owned a chateau in France and a lux­ury yacht. He was shot dead by a hit­man at his Es­sex man­sion in 2015. Last night North York­shire Po­lice con­firmed they had “ar­rested a 73-year-old man from York on be­half of Span­ish au­thor­i­ties af­ter a Euro­pean Ar­rest War­rant had been is­sued”.

BLING: Palmer’s boat in Tener­ife THE AC­COUN­TANT Paul Blanchard says he was fight­ing ter­ror THE EN­FORCER Der­bah set up ri­val Time­share gang GOLDFIN­GER Gang­ster Palmer was worth £300m MUR­DERER: Ken­neth Noye

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.