British national, Gary Hide in court over huge arms deals to Nigeria

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An international arms dealer from Yorkshire was involved in the illegal trade of 80,000 guns and 32 million rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria and hid the profits in an offshore bank account, a court has heard.

Gary Hyde, 42, partly arranged and organised the shipment in 2007 of 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 other rifles and 10,000 9mm pistols, plus the ammunition, a trial at Southwark Crown Court in London was told.

Prosecutors say the deal was illegal because it was partly arranged in Britain and Hyde had failed to get permission from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Opening the case, Mukul Chawla QC told the jury: “Mr Hyde, despite knowing that such a licence was required, helped to organise the shipment… without seeking and obtaining the required licence.

“In that sense the prosecution say he acted criminally…This was not simple negligence but was a deliberate and calculated breach of the law.

“In order to ensure that his criminality, his illegal activities, were not drawn to the attention of the UK authorities, he placed and thus concealed profits from this illegal trade into a bank account in Liechtenstein.”

Hyde, of Mask Lane, Newton on Derwent, near York, denies two charges under the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003 and one of concealing criminal property.

The jury heard that he received commission payments totalling about $1.3m (£841,609) for carrying out his part in the trade with his German business partner, Karl Kleber.

The pair acted as middle men between two Polish businesses acting for the Nigerian buyers and Chinese companies.

The case has opened a new route of investigation to Goodluck Jonathan’s government to unravel Hyde’s Nigerian accomplices acting as direct link to his(Hyde’s) cartel, dealing in arm and ammunition to Nigeria.

Hyde and two others  were arrested last month in the US charged with conspiring to illegally export almost 6,000 Chinese-produced AK-47 magazines to the US in breach of an American embargo. He is also under investigation in the UK , for his alleged involvement in a case relating to the sale of 40,000 AK-47s.

Oliver Sprague of Amnesty International UK said, “It’s a deeply alarming case that demonstrates yet again why arms brokering, small arms and ammunition trafficking must be at the heart of efforts to secure a new global Arms Trade Treaty”

The three allegedly flouted a US ban on trading arms with China by conspiring to “smuggle into the United States, Chinese-manufactured drums” containing ammunition for the AK-47 assault rifle.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 (157,500) or both, according to US attorney William J Hochul.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy involved more than 5,700 Chinese-manufactured drums, each containing 75 rounds, smuggled in from March 2008 to October 2008.

It is alleged that the men struck a deal with a Chinese weapons factory to make the magazines, while informing the US government that the imports, brought in through an American firearms dealer, were manufactured in Bulgaria.

The documents suggest the origins of the Chinese weapons –which eventually changed hands for $345,600 (£216,121) – were often referred to using code words such as they “must not smell of sweet and sour or of special fried”.

Also accused by federal investigators in US are another UK national, Paul Restorick, 61, of Kent, and Karl Kleber, 56, of Lisbon, identified as a business associate of Hyde.

Named in the charges is a company called Jago Ltd, described in the court papers as an “international arms business based in York”, of which Hyde is listed as company secretary and Kleber as a director.

Nigeria IG Abubakar Ringim

Hyde, who lives with his wife near York, runs a number of other companies in the area including Dunnington-based York Guns, of which he is managing director.

In the 1990s, Hyde received a North Yorkshire Chief Constable’s bravery award for helping to foil a raid on his York Guns shop, then in King Street, York, during which he had a shotgun pointed at his head and was blindfolded in an ordeal which he called “terrifying”.

He also spoke out in the 1990s against a tightening of gun laws after it was revealed that York Guns had supplied a pistol used by Dunblane killer Thomas Hamilton.

Source. Yorkshire Post