Counterfeit money printers ordered to pay back profits

The case involved the largest face-value seizure of fake currency in UK history. Image: Kent Police
The case involved the largest face-value seizure of fake currency in UK history. Image: Kent Police

Three men involved in a conspiracy to supply over £12m of counterfeit banknotes have been ordered to give up the real money they earned from their crimes.

Phillip Brown, John Evans, and Nick Winter were all jailed following an investigation in 2019 by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

As part of the officers’ enquiries they carried out the largest face-value seizure of fake currency in UK history following a raid at a printing press in Beckenham.

It is believed the defendants profited from their conspiracy by selling the counterfeit money to other criminals, with the Bank of England having removed notes with a total face value of over £1.9m from UK circulation.

Earlier this month, on 9 June, a judge at Woolwich Crown Court granted confiscation orders against Brown and Winter, requiring them to pay back what they have available in cash and other assets.

In Brown’s case the amount is £201,761 while Winter must pay £4,000. Evans had previously been ordered to pay £7,258 at an earlier hearing in November 2021.

Detective inspector David Godfrey from Kent Police said: “The Proceeds of Crime Team work very hard to establish how much offenders have earned from their illegal activities and have available to pay back. Those who fail to pay within a set timeframe have their prison sentences increased.

“It is also important to note that we carry out regular reviews and can continue to seize any further cash and assets the offenders may come into in the future, until the total amount they benefited from is recovered.

“The offenders in this case printed their own money but their criminal actions have ended up costing them their freedom and now the money they had no right to in the first place.”

Assets recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act are distributed to operational agencies including Kent Police under the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS). ARIS divides recovered assets between operational agencies and the Home Office, which is then reinvested into policing.

An investigation into the Beckenham crime group’s activities began when the Bank of England identified a new counterfeit paper £20 note had entered general circulation.

The printed £20 notes were in the old paper style as this happened prior to the Bank of England's polymer £20 note entering circulation in February 2020.

The note appeared to have been produced using the type of specialist equipment that “would normally be associated with a company printing large volumes of magazines or leaflets”.

Kent Police told Printweek in 2021 that a Heidelberg GT Platen was used to foil the notes, while the printing machine located at the site of the police raid, which is believed to have been used to print the notes themselves, was a Heidelberg Speedmaster.

Enquiries established that parts and materials associated with the production of fake currency on a commercial scale had been ordered and were linked to a printing press owned by Winter in Kent House Lane, Beckenham.

A search warrant was carried out in May 2019 and inside officers found Brown and another man surrounded by printing equipment and large piles of counterfeit £20 notes, later confirmed as having a total face value of £5.25m.

In the months that followed, further large amounts of counterfeit currency believed to have been printed by the group continued to be discovered.

Evans was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in January 2021 for his involvement in the conspiracy while Brown was jailed for six-and-a-half years. Winter had been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment the previous December.

Companies House lists a disqualification by court order on 21 December 2020 for Nicholas Winter, born in January 1962, for conduct while acting for WDP Ronco, under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (Section 2). His disqualification began on 11 January 2021 and runs until 10 January 2027.

On Companies House filings for WDP Ronco, Nick Eliott Winter, born in January 1962, is listed as one of the directors of the printing company that, according to the London Gazette, had traded from the Gardner Industrial Estate in Kent House Lane, Beckenham until it entered liquidation in October 2019.

Another company, We Do, listed a Nicholas Elliot Winter, born in January 1963, as a director. Dissolved in October 2020 via voluntary strike-off, the company’s previous name was Daleholm, whose records show the same Nick Eliott Winter listed for WDP Ronco as a former director who resigned in 2010.