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Glamour model was part of £100m money-laundering operation led by ‘kingpin’, court told

Jo-Emma Larvin (44) is on trial in the UK where she is accused of stashing the money in her luggage before flying from London Heathrow to Dubai

Jo-Emma Larvin

Tara Hanlon

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The British ex-glamour model who allegedly smuggled £5million packed in suitcases from the UK to Dubai was part of £100m money-laundering operation led by a glamorous kingpin, a London court has been told.

Jo-Emma Larvin (44) is on trial in the UK where she is accused of stashing the notes in her luggage before flying from London Heathrow to the Middle East.

The jury at Isleworth Crown Court has already been told how the smugglers would declare the cash once arriving in Dubai, handing over a letter authorising them to carry it from a company called Omnivest.

The authorities would check the amount and give them a currency declaration form.

The couriers would have a few days in Dubai before flying back with cases that were “very considerably lighter than when they went out” prosecutors claim.

They would fly business class so they could bring more luggage and all their expenses including hotel accommodation were covered while they were paid in the region of £3,000 each for the trip.

Tara Hanlon

It is alleged that members of Larvin's smuggling ring, including one Liam Rabone, were recruited into the scheme by “glamorous kingpin” Tara Hanlon, who jurors heard has admitted money-laundering offences.

In July of last year, Hanlon (30) of Pelham Court, Leeds, pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court in June to money laundering offences worth more than £5m.

She was jailed for 34 months after being found at Heathrow Airport with five suitcases stuffed with nearly £2m in cash as she tried to board a flight to Dubai on October 3, 2020

It is claimed that Larvin, who once dated boxer Joe Calzaghe, and her partner Jonathan Johnson (55) carried £2.8m in September 2020, using holiday items to disguise the cash.

Larvin and 27-year-old Amy Harrison also smuggled an estimated £2.2m in seven cases, Isleworth Crown Court has heard.

Page Henry, who has admitted removing criminal property in relation to the scheme, said she was recruited to take large amounts of cash to Dubai on four different occasions.

When asked how much she was told was in the suitcase, Henry said: “Multi-millions. Two to four or five million. In pounds”.

She told how she was paid £3,000 for one trip to Dubai in £10, £20 and £50 notes which were sometimes Scottish.

The gang used “work phones” that were accessed through specific pin numbers.

During her second trip, Henry recalled using a code word 'Ninja' to refer to a man called Ali in a WhatsApp group chat used to organise the next trip to Dubai.

“It was like a code word, it was a nickname in the group chat on WhatsApp,” she said.

Henry said she was contacted by Michelle Clark who she knew through working together at Sky.

Larvin and Johnson, along with Harrison, Beatrice Auty (26) and Liam Rabone (29) all deny removing criminal property from the UK.

Auty took three trips to Dubai but is only charged with attempting to remove criminal cash on the third run as the cases were intercepted by the National Crime Agency. She is also accused of assisting on another 11 smuggling runs.

Harrison allegedly two other trips as well as the one she made with Larvin, smuggling £6million, while Rabone took three trips.

Julian Christopher KC, prosecuting, told jurors the defendants played a significant part in the transportation of very large amounts of cash to Dubai from Heathrow.

Millions of pounds in English and Scottish banknotes were carried in suitcases checked in as luggage, the court heard. Anything over 10,000 Euros leaving the EU has to be declared to HMRC, but the smugglers' suitcases usually contained up to £500,000, the prosecutor said.

The organiser, Abdulla Alfalasi (47) had arranged 83 successful trips over 18 months and these defendants were involved in 16 while two more were unsuccessful.

The total amount of cash taken out of the UK in those 83 trips as “in the region of £100m”, the court heard.

Messages accessed from Rabone's work phone had been deleted after he had shared his pin with a contact who was also travelling out to Dubai.

“The pin number would obviously give access to the messages on the work phone, presumably the sort of message that says he would be travelling out with cash to Dubai,' the prosecutor said.

“Just another inkling at his state of mind as of the need to keep secret [how] he is involved in with the communications in relation to these trips.”

The court also heard how four videos were accessed from Auty's phone that documented her unpacking bundles of cash after a trip on 3 October 2020.

“There are photos taken...of lots and lots of bundles of cash laid out on the floor, the video is the unpacking of the cash onto the carrier bags,” prosecutors added.

Andrew Radcliffe, KC, defending Rabone, said: “We can now see may things Mr Rabone did not know and could not know at the time.

“He knew of some others flying but he could not of know of all of that back in July, August and September of 2020. We are told there are some 85 trips. But he could of only been aware of a small handful of each of these.

“He was recruited by a woman he regarded at the time his closest friend, Tara Hanlon. We know she must've known what was really going on because she pleaded guilty to all of this.

“She reassured him at all times the money belonged to a very wealth Qatari man and the money was all completely legitimate.”

The trial continues.

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