Skip to main content

Arms to Azerbaijan Dealer Jailed

Press Release   •   Jul 20, 2012 16:50 BST

Michael Ranger, 65, from Hertfordshire, is an arms dealer with 30 years’ experience in the industry. He ran Imperial Defence Services Ltd (IDS) but secretly attempted to broker two separate deals to supply surface to air missiles and Beretta pistols to Azerbaijan. 

Peter Millroy, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigations in HMRC, said:

“Ranger was an experienced arms dealer who knew what he was doing. He knew about the arms embargo, he knew he would be refused permission to ship the arms to Azerbaijan but was prepared to go ahead anyway out of sheer greed. HMRC will not stand by whilst people like Ranger break the law to line their own pocket. This sentence sends a clear message – we will find you and we will see justice done.”

In early 2010, Ranger began his attempt to source the missiles from a clandestine contact in North Korea via a secret email account held in a false name. Ranger also attempted to source Beretta pistols direct from the manufacturer which he intended to sell to the Azerbaijan government. He set up a company in Hong Kong to make the deals and hide his involvement from the UK authorities.

The businessman was arrested in March 2011 by HMRC officers at Stansted airport when he returned to the UK from a lengthy business trip overseas.

Ranger had no intention of applying for a trade control license and had not contacted the UK authorities despite his many years in the arms trade. 

The deal to supply the missiles fell through when Ranger and his North Korean contact couldn’t agree terms.

Notes to editors

1. Details of defendant: Michael George Alan Ranger, DOB 15/11/1946, of Frogs Hall, Bambers Green, Takeley, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM22 6PE

2. He was convicted of two counts of being knowingly concerned in acts calculated to promote the supply or delivery of goods subject to trade controls with intent to evade the prohibition contrary to Section 34(5) of the Export Control Order 2008.

3. Follow HMRC on twitter: @HMRCgovUK

4. HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

NAT 73.12

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office


HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.