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Fraudsters who supplied fake passports to Christy Kinahan Snr jailed

The NCA captured audio recordings in Zietek’s house of incriminating conversations with Beard and others about the application processes and their customers

Christy Kinahan Snr and (inset) Anthony Beard and Christopher Zietek

Beard, Zietek and Thompson

A fake passport issued to killer Christopher Hughes

NCA footage of Beard conducting business with an identity doner

Beard captured meeting a customer in London

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Two fraudsters who supplied falsified passports to Christy Kinahan that helped the wanted cartel boss to flee across international borders have been jailed for a total of 14 years.

Anthony Beard (61) and Christopher Zietek (67) were caught after a covert surveillance operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) found they provided fraudulently obtained genuine passports (FOGs) to organised criminals over a five-year period.

Beard, a minor fraudster from Sydenham, in South London, obtained real passports in other people's names then added the photographs of criminals, including two fugitive murderers.

Crime bosses jailed for supplying fraudulent passports to UK criminals

He was jailed for six years and eight months after pleading guilty. Christopher Zietek also known as Chris McCormack, who was his link with crime gangs, was jailed for eight years.

A third member of the gang, Alan Thompson, was sentenced to three years.

The documents they supplied, costing up to £15,000, enabled criminals to cross borders and conduct business undetected.

Beard, Zietek and Thompson

Customers included Glasgow murderers Jordan Owen and Christopher Hughes, Liverpool drug trafficker Michael Moogan, Manchester fugitive David Walley and suspected Scottish drug traffickers Barrie Gillespie, Jamie Stevenson and James White.

FOG passports were also supplied to Jamie Acourt and firearms trafficker Richard Burdett.

Speaking at a press briefing before the sentences were handed down at Reading Crown Court today, NCA officers who led up the investigation told how Kinahan was a “significant” figure whose name “stood out” among the other dangerous criminals who benefitted from the false documents.

“Christy Kinahan is obviously believed to be part of a very significant organised crime group in the Irish Republic,” Senior Investigating Officer Paul Green, said.

“For the purposes of our investigation, the FOG holders, by and large, were not our remit. But once we identified them we could gain evidence from the fact that some of them were fugitives.

A fake passport issued to killer Christopher Hughes

“(While) the investigation of people like Mr Kinahan wasn't part of my remit I recognised the name, having spent 23 odd years now in the realms of investigating serious organised crime, but it wasn't a feature of our investigation specifically.”

NCA Deputy Director Craig Turner added: “Kinahan’s was one name that obviously stood out but there is (sic) a bunch of others as well.

"Obviously, it makes this quite an unusual job, to take away this enabler from organised criminal networks who want to travel abroad. That's the golden ticket for last criminal networks, who obviously want to deal abroad.”

Beard would find vulnerable people in rehab centres and veterans' shelters, many of whom had drug or alcohol problems, and persuade them to lend him their identity in exchange for very little money.

He would then apply to renew the vulnerable person's expired passport, but the photo he submitted would be a recent picture of a wanted criminal in need of a new identity.

Zietek, meanwhile, who was formerly known as Christopher McCormack was believed to be an enforcer for the Adams crime family in London. He split his time between Sydenham, Ireland and Spain. He acted as the FOG broker and exploited his criminal connections to obtain clients for the crime group.

As well as supplying a passport to Kinahan, the pair also gave one to Glasgow mobster Christopher Hughes who is now serving time for the murder of Dutch crime writer Martin Kok.

Hughes was found to have been using an Irish passport when he was involved in luring the Dutch man to where he was shot dead outside a Dutch sex club in 2016.

The major Scottish drugs boss was later arrested in Italy and extradited to Scotland where he was convicted of Kok’s murder.

Senior Investigating Officer Paul Green said there were some indications that there was an interest in acquiring FOG Irish passports.

“Zietek does of course have connections in Ireland,” he said. “You could (understand) the interest from British and Irish criminals in having an alternate identity in a language that they spoke.

NCA footage of Beard conducting business with an identity doner

“Irish FOGS alongside UK FOGS are of interest to British and Irish criminals. Maybe following the changed arrangements with Europe that we now have it may be that Irish FOGS have increased in benefit, given the limitations on the British passport holders.”

The NCA captured audio recordings in Zietek’s house of incriminating conversations with Beard and others about the application processes and their customers.

Officers also observed meetings with identity donors or counter-signatories, analysed reams of mobile phone and cell site data, and deployed undercover officers to deliver some of the passports.

Mr Green revealed that while Beard would hold lots of meetings “in public places like cafes pubs”, Zietek was very different.

“With a couple of exceptions he held meetings at his home address,” the NCA revealed.

“Obviously it's easier for us with someone under surveillance to sit near them in a cafe and try and see what they're up to than finding out what's going on behind the closed doors of somebody's house.

“The tactics that we brought to bear to investigations like this included the ability to deploy covert audio recording devices in private premises and that's exactly what took place in this investigation.

“These passports could find their way, via Zietek, to the recipients who would then use them, as well as for use for international travel, to facilitate their lifestyle on the continent.

Beard captured meeting a customer in London

“So you may well be aware that typically when you book into your hotel in Spain you need to provide some identification. A passport is usually the method for that, but these fugitives obviously could not do that with their own passports, because perhaps that would then come to the attention of law enforcement.

“So the FOG passports enabled them to continue in their criminal activities and remain at large, for some of them, for a period of amounting to a number of years.”

Zietek and Beard were arrested during coordinated NCA raids in October 2021.

Between them charges were brought for offences of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to make a false instrument with intent (passports and ID documents), and money laundering.

Beard changed his plea to guilty on January 3, 2023, the first day of a nine-week trial at Reading Crown Court. Zietek was found guilty on March 17.

Thompson (72) from Sutton, Surrey, was also found guilty on March 17. He worked for Zietek doing everything from chauffeuring him to criminal meetings to performing necessary tasks for the brokering of FOG passports, including meeting Beard when Zietek was abroad. A FOG passport and several photographs of FOG customers were located at his home.

At Reading Crown Court today (16 May) Zietek was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, Beard to six years and Thompson to three years.

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