Iran General NewsArms dealer jailed for sale of Iranian guns to...

Arms dealer jailed for sale of Iranian guns to Kuwait

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The Guardian: A British arms dealer who illegally sold more than 100 automatic weapons in the Middle East was jailed for four years yesterday, HM Revenue and Customs has announced. The Guardian

Alexandra Topping

A British arms dealer who illegally sold more than 100 automatic weapons in the Middle East was jailed for four years yesterday, HM Revenue and Customs has announced.

In the first prosecution under laws designed to end the uncontrolled sale of arms by British citizens between countries outside the UK, John Knight, 52, of Fawkham, Kent, managed to ship 130 of the powerful weapons from Iran to Kuwait despite being refused an export licence because of fears they could be used for terrorist activity.

Knight, a well-known figure in the arms trade, has previously admitted negotiating sales of large quantities of weapons to Sudan while ethnic cleansing in the country was at its height.

He first came to public attention in 1991 after being approached by a Daily Mirror journalist posing as a buyer of Kalashnikov rifles.

Blackfriars crown court heard how Knight agreed to supply 130 guns to the Kuwait’s interior ministry and received $120,000 (£60,000) on account as payment. He applied to the Department of Trade and Industry for a licence to ship 130 German-designed Heckler & Koch MP5 A3s, which are used by the SAS and British police forces among others, from Iran to Kuwait.

Despite the refusal of the UK Export Licensing Authority to grant him a licence in November last year, he continued to organise for the shipment to be made. He sourced 130 MP T9 guns – the Iranian copy of the MP5 A3 – from Tusa, the Tehran-based Iranian weapons supplier.

The millionaire arms dealer laid a carefully planned paper trail to make it look as though he had pulled out of the deal, while arranging for the arms to be shipped to Kuwait. When the shipment arrived in Kuwait on January 5, it was intercepted by Kuwaiti customs.

A search of Knight’s home by HMRC officers revealed shredded documents that proved his direct involvement in the supply.

Knight was jailed after pleading guilty in September to illegally transporting the weapons in contravention of the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003. He was also ordered to pay a £53,389.51 confiscation order within six months. Kevin Davis, assistant director of HMRC criminal investigation, said: “Illicit deals of this nature expose British nationals and armed forces to increased risk of harm.

“These types of weapon are frequently diverted to some of the world’s most volatile regions, fuel global insecurity and afford terrorists the opportunity to acquire guns.”

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