Russell-Cooke associate Jacob Smyth successfully represented a client who was prosecuted in relation to his alleged involvement in a multi-million currency counterfeiting conspiracy, described by Kent Police as the biggest conspiracy of this kind in the history of UK policing.

Jacob’s client was acquitted of conspiracy to produce counterfeit currency in March 2022 after an eight week trial of five defendants at Woolwich Crown Court.

The Prosecution alleged that he was part of a conspiracy involving at least nine persons, at least one of whom was a member of a dedicated Organised Crime Group, to make counterfeit currency on a commercial scale, namely £20 notes produced by lithographic printing and ‘hot foiling’.

After the Bank of England identified a new variant note in January 2019, £1.6 million was removed from general circulation.  

Following a period of covert surveillance, the Beckenham printing site was raided by the police in May 2019. Inside, the police found pallets stacked with A3 sheets of paper, each sheet comprising 10 x £20 counterfeit notes with a total face-value of more than £5 million, and the necessary equipment for simulating the security features of genuine currency. Later in 2019 and in 2020, more than £5 million of the same variant was discovered at various sites in Kent and London.

The Prosecution case rested heavily on telephone material, cell site evidence and the use of encrypted telephones.  Jacob’s client gave evidence and called defence witnesses to counter inferences the Prosecution invited the jury to draw about his location and his contact with others.

While the paper £20 note has since been replaced, reports suggest that the new polymer notes are already being counterfeited.

Jacob Smyth instructed Gavin Irwin and Sarah Przybylska of 2 Hare Court.

Jacob Smyth said:

Our client’s life was on hold after his arrest in 2019, with conditional bail since then restricting his movements Covid thwarted efforts to bring this case to trial in March 2020 and January 2021 … He would have faced a lengthy custodial sentence if convicted as co-defendants who had been sentenced following guilty pleas in 2019 and 2020 received in excess of six years … Confiscation proceedings may have resulted in him losing his home of more than 20 years and his family being forced to move. Instead, he is now able to re-start his life.”

Jacob is an associate in the fraud and criminal litigation team. He advises clients at all stages of investigation and prosecution, principally in respect of allegations of economic crime, serious sexual offences, and drugs supply.

The case has been covered extensively in the press, including BBC News, iNews, Print Week and the Mail Online.