LewishamNews

Two crime bosses from Sydenham jailed for supplying fake passports for 20 years

Two crime bosses have been jailed for supplying fraudulent passports to organised criminals.

Anthony Beard, from Kirkdale in Sydenham, was an expert in fraudulently obtained genuine passports (FOGs). National Crime Agency (NCA) officers believe he had been procuring them for 20 years.

Beard and his associate, Christopher Zietek, 67, from Collingwood Road in Sydenham, were caught after a surveillance operation by the NCA found they provided FOGs to organised criminals over a five-year period.

At Reading Crown Court today Zietek was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, while Beard was handed six years.

Between them, charges were brought for offences of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to make false identification documents and money laundering.

The FOG’s allowed criminals to operate abroad and carry on conducting criminality affecting the UK.

The crime group exploited vulnerable people, often with drink or drug problems, who were around the same age as their clients and with similar facial features. These people were paid after they provided their expired passports.

The investigation found Beard was involved in every aspect of organising and applying for the passports, including collecting application forms and planning the details to be provided by the applicant and the counter-signatory.

Customers paid the crime group between £5,000 and £20,000 for the highly sought after documents, which were issued authentically but applied for using false information. 

Since the arrests of Beard and Zietek many fugitives have been caught including Glasgow murderers Jordan Owen and Christopher Hughes, Liverpool drug trafficker Michael Moogan and suspected Scottish drug traffickers Barrie Gillespie, Jamie Stevenson and James White.

Beard and Zietek were arrested during NCA raids in October 2021.

Beard changed his plea to guilty on January 3, the first day of a nine-week trial at Reading Crown Court. Zietek was found guilty on March 17.

Another member of the crime group, Alan Thompson, 72, from Sutton, Surrey, was also found guilty on March 17. He was sentenced today to three years.

Thompson worked for Zietek doing everything from chauffeuring him to criminal meetings to performing necessary tasks for the brokering of FOG passports.

NCA Deputy Director Craig Turner said: “The fraudulent passports this crime group supplied were seen as golden tickets by criminals, as they allowed them to operate internationally under false identities and pose a sustained threat to the public.

“We worked across international borders to bring the masterminds to account, and we will continue to protect the UK from criminals who present a threat to our security, people and economy.”

Pictured top: L-R Anthony Beard, Christopher Zietek and Alan Thompson (Picture: National Crime Agency)

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