Another Sydenham man in his 60s has been charged as part of a huge investigation into forging hundreds of passports for criminals wanting to get into the UK.
Anthony Beard, 59, of Kirkdale, was charged with one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice, one count of conspiracy to make a false instrument and one count of money laundering.
Beard is accused along with five others of being part of a crime group which provided hundreds of UK passports that enabled criminals – including people fleeing justice in the UK and international drug and firearm traffickers – to cross borders and conduct their business undetected.
Beard was bailed and is due to appear at Croydon Magistrates Court on November 17.
Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), who have been leading the investigation, say the group specialised in fraudulently-obtained genuine passports (FOGs) – documents which are issued authentically but have been applied for using false information. The result is a seemingly legitimate document, and FOGs are therefore highly sought after by criminals worldwide.
Jacque Beer, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: “Since the operation which saw the arrests take place, we have worked patiently and diligently to build up evidence which has now led to these charges being authorised.
“We remain determined to disrupt and dismantle organised crime networks involved in this sort of activity.”
It comes after Christopher McCormack (also known as Christopher Zietek), aged 66, of Collingtree Road, Sydenham, appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on October 12, charged with one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice, two counts of conspiracy to make a false instrument and one count of money laundering.
McCormack was remanded in custody until his next appearance at Reading Crown Court on November 22.
McCormack, who splits his time between Spain, the UK and Ireland, is suspected of acting as a broker between criminals seeking to buy the passports and crime group members that supplied them.
The NCA ran the operation with support from HM Passport Office and the Dutch police.