Lowestoft mum in customs battle
A SUFFOLK mother-of-three is in a financial battle with customs officers trying to claw back the �1.95m she made from crime.Company director Ellen George was spared jail at her sentencing in March this year, after admitting laundering millions of pounds paid to her Lowestoft-based business by international drug barons.
A SUFFOLK mother-of-three is in a financial battle with customs officers trying to claw back the �1.95m she made from crime.
Company director Ellen George was spared jail at her sentencing in March this year, after admitting laundering millions of pounds paid to her Lowestoft-based business by international drug barons.
The 43-year-old is now facing having her assets confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act following her two-year suspended jail sentence.
Despite lawyers for both parties agreeing she profited by �1,950,409 from her role in the drug-smuggling operation, her legal representatives are contesting the amount George is able to pay back.
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They contend her realisable assets are less than the agreed amount she made from her crimes.
A confiscation hearing was due to take place in Ipswich Crown Court last Friday.
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However, it has now been deferred after agreement could not be made about how much could be retrieved.
No date has been scheduled as yet for the next hearing of the case, but it will not be before December, a customs spokesman said.
George was convicted following a five-year HM Customs investigation.
She admitted five charges of evading �394,000 in tax relating to her partner's property business.
George's downfall came when officers found more than �1.25m in cash as they raided her home in Colville Road.
She helped her partner Richard Neil Davison make and sell high speed boats from their company Crompton Marine to an organised crime gang.
Customs sources believe the gang are likely to have netted more than �32m from running drugs between north Africa and Spain. Among the money found at George's home was �250,000 in cash stuffed in a holdall under the stairs.
At the time the swoop took place in March 2004 it was the largest ever cash confiscation in the UK.
George pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to possession of criminal property and five counts of conspiracy to defraud the Inland Revenue.
During her sentencing the court heard she did not realise Davison was involved with drug runners and believed he was supplying boats to tobacco smugglers.
George was said not to live a lavish lifestyle, although some of the millions made by Crompton Marine were invested in properties in Suffolk which were then rented out.
The rent was used to fund George's expenses, including private schools for the three children she had with Davison, a luxury 4x4 vehicle, and properties in Spain and Tenerife.