Model accused of smuggling £5m in cash hidden in suitcases on Heathrow-Dubai flights

Jo-Emma Larvin and four co-accused deny removing criminal property from the UK

Jo-Emma Larvin faces currency-smuggling charges in London. Getty
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A former model allegedly helped to smuggle £5 million ($5.96 million) in criminal cash into Dubai, a court has heard.

Jo-Emma Larvin, 44, is accused of hiding the money in suitcases as she flew out of London Heathrow twice in 2020. Her partner Jonathan Johnson, 55, travelled with her on her second trip to Dubai.

Ms Larvin and Mr Johnson and three co-accused — Amy Harrison, from Surrey, Beatrice Auty, 26, from west London, and Liam Rabone, also from west London — deny removing criminal property from the UK.

“Each of the defendants is alleged to have played a significant part in the transportation of very large amounts of cash — English and Scottish banknotes — out to Dubai from Heathrow,” said Julian Christopher KC, prosecuting. “Millions of pounds worth, carried in suitcases checked in as luggage as they were flying as passengers.”

Mr Christopher told jurors the defendants' involvement would most “likely not be in dispute” but that jurors would need to decide if the money was from the proceeds of crime and whether the accused “knew or suspected it was”.

Members of the smuggling ring would fly business class so they could take more luggage, the court heard. Their cases were also allegedly packed with ordinary holiday items to disguise the money.

Prosecutors said Ms Larvin and Ms Harrison smuggled an estimated £2.2 million using seven cases in August 2020.

They added that £2.8 million was smuggled by Ms Larvin and Mr Johnson on a trip in September 2020 using eight cases. They were arrested in March 2022.

Jurors heard that Ms Auty took three trips to Dubai — but has been charged with attempting to remove criminal cash only in relation to the third occasion, when the cases were intercepted by the National Crime Agency.

Ms Auty is accused of assisting with 11 other trips, Ms Harrison is accused of two other trips and Mr Rabone is accused of taking three trips.

They would be paid about £3,000 plus expenses, Isleworth Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

The court has heard that organiser Abdulla Alfalasi, arranged 83 successful trips over 18 months — the defendants were involved in 16. Two more were unsuccessful.

“The total amount of cash removed in those 83 occasions is in the region of £100 million,” Mr Christopher said.

Anything over €10,000 (£8,840) leaving the EU has to be declared to the UK tax officials at HMRC. Mr Christopher said the smugglers' suitcases would typically contain up to £500,000.

Mr Christopher said: “If these were declared at Heathrow the likelihood is that they would be detained until the source of the money could be determined. So the people carrying the cash had to keep quiet about the cash in the cases as they checked the cases in.”

The trial continues.

Updated: March 02, 2023, 4:08 PM

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