UK Government

HM Revenue & Customs (National): Former marine jailed for selling arms to Iran

Press Release   •   Oct 06, 2010 11:12 BST

A former British Royal Marine has been jailed for two and half years after attempting to supply hi-tech sniper-scopes to Iran.

During the investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Andrew Faulkner, 42, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, claimed he was selling the potentially lethal military grade equipment to a buyer in Dubai, where the scopes would be used for hunting. He later admitted that the real destination for the rifle sights was Tehran. The same model of a Schmidt and Bender scope was found by British troops in an arms cache in an underground insurgent bunker in Basra, Iraq.

Faulkner was supplied with the scopes by Alessandro Bon, an Italian national who has since been arrested by Italian police for his role in supplying arms (including sniper scopes) to Iran. Faulkner, a security consultant and arms trader who was a corporal in the Royal Marines for 14 years, imported 100 of the hi-tech scopes to the UK, where they were delivered to his home.

Faulkner then arranged for the sniper scopes to be transported out of the UK, but HMRC and UK Border Agency officers intercepted them at Heathrow Airport. The export paperwork claimed that the scopes were going to be used for hunting and that they were being shipped to Dubai. Email evidence retrieved from Faulkner’s computer showed that the real destination for the scopes was Tehran.

When interviewed by HMRC officers, Faulkner originally claimed that he didn’t know the cargo was destined for Iran, but later admitted that he had been aware of the fact.

Peter Millroy, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:

“These were high specification rifle sights used by precision marksmen in the armed forces. Faulkner knew from experience the harm this equipment could cause in this volatile area of the world, and he knew the risk of their use against coalition forces. He was motivated purely by the money he could make through this illegal and highly dangerous arms deal.”

On sentencing, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said that Faulkner had “put financial gain above past and present colleagues” and that he had been the “front man for the deal” and was to be paid €12,000.

Malcolm McHaffie of the CPS Central Fraud Group said:

“Arms dealers are well-aware of the risks of sending military hardware to countries where there can be no assurance of how it will be used or who will use it. There is a real danger of such items falling into the wrong hands. Mr Faulkner knew these scopes were military-grade and that their ultimate destination was Iran, but he went ahead with the sale just to earn his fee. Lives could have been put at risk by his selfish and reckless behaviour.”

Notes to editors

1. Andrew Faulkner, 14/5/1968, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the export of controlled goods. He was sentenced to two and half years at Southwark Crown Court by Judge Nicholas Lorraine-Smith.

2. The rifle sights that were sold to Iran were the Schmidt and Bender 3-12x50 PM II LP, a high specification precision optical scope designed for use with sniper rifles, which retail at around €1000 each. Schmidt and Bender sights are used by military snipers throughout the world.

3. Faulkner is a former member of the Royal Marines. He traded in military equipment for a number of years, initially as Gator Global Services Limited and more recently as UWI Technologies Ltd.

4. Following Faulkner’s arrest by HMRC, Italian police arrested seven people (including Alessandro Bon, his partner and two Iranian nationals) in connection with arms rings supplying weapons to Iran.

5. To view the documents associated with this release, please use the link below:

NAT 48/10

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