The co-owner of haulier Genesis 2014 (Ltd) UK and four of its employees have been locked up for a total of 34 years after being found to be part of a criminal enterprise run from the Tunstall-based firm, which saw large sums of illegal cash transported across the UK and beyond.
The gang, described as a "nationally significant organised crime group" by HMRC, offered their services to criminals up and down the country and beyond as part of a £30m money laundering scam.
The five men include Marcus Hughes, a senior manager and part owner of Genesis 2014 (Ltd) UK, two of the firm's drivers, Nicholas Fern and Damion Morgan, and Liam Bailey and Leon Woolley, who both worked as transport planners.
A sixth man, Simon Davies, a business associate of Hughes, was also convicted.
Genesis 2014 (Ltd) UK is no longer in operation. Its operating licence was revoked in April 2021 and the company appointed a liquidator in June 2022.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard this week that Hughes would speak to Craig Johnson, a convicted fraudster based in Dubai, using an encrypted network phone, known as Encrochat to arrange the collection of cash from various places in the UK and elsewhere, on a regular basis. The cash was then moved to London to be laundered.
Both Hughes and Woolley were both involved in this conspiracy, communicating with Johnson until the Encrochat was compromised in June 2020.
The court saw that no cash was seized from the conspiracy involving just Hughes and Woolley, but messages suggested they intended to move more than £12m per week.
In a second conspiracy Hughes worked with someone known as Wolf who would provide postcodes for collection and delivery and details of the amount of criminal cash to be transported.
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This conspiracy also involved two of the haulier’s HGV drivers, Nicholas Fern and Damion Morgan, with Hughes passing on the details to the drivers via the firm’s transport planners Woolley and Bailey.
The court heard that Fern and Morgan were employed almost exclusively for transporting significant amounts of cash.
All six men were found guilty, following a trial, of conspiracy to launder criminal property between August 13, 2020, and March 27, 2021.
Hughes and Woolley were also found guilty of a second count of conspiracy to launder criminal property between March 9, 2020, and June 15, 2020.
Hughes, 52, of Millers View, Cheadle, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to launder criminal property and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was also made subject to a serious crime prevention order.
Transport planner Leon Woolley, 44, of Broadway, Meir, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison after being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to launder criminal property.
HGV drivers Nicholas Fern, 51, of Cornwall Drive, Baswich, Stafford, and Damion Morgan, 25, of Lansbury Grove, Meir, were both handed five years and six months in prison after being found guilty of one count of conspiracy to launder criminal property.
Transport planner Liam Bailey, 23, of no fixed address, who had no previous convictions, was given three years and six months in prison after being found guilty of one count of conspiracy to launder criminal property.
Simon Davies, 52, of Cheddleton Park Avenue, Leek, who was not employed by Genesis 2014 (Ltd) UK, was sentenced to eight years in prison after he was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to launder criminal property.