Bernie Ecclestone son-in-law: Sheffield metal refinery raised during £266m money laundering trial

A Sheffield metal refinery was brought up as part of a £266m money laundering trial involving Bernie Ecclestone’s former son-in-law.
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Bankrupt former billionaire James Stunt, 40, is on trial alongside seven other defendants accused of hiding vast fortunes as a gold dealer.

The scheme - labelled as 'Britain's biggest ever money-laundering scam' - involved millions in "bags of cash" being delivered to the firm Fowler Oldfield.

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As part of the ongoing trial at Leeds Cloth Hall Court on Friday, the jury heard how the defendant bought a Sheffield metal refinery where he hoped to turn scrap ‘dure gold’ – an alloy of silver and gold – into sellable bars.

Socialite James Stunt and Helena Robinson arrive at Leeds Cloth Hall Court where he is one of eight defendants on trial over an alleged multimillion-pound money-laundering operation. The former son-in-law of F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone is alleged to have been involved with the operation which saw £266 million deposited in the bank account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield from 2014 to 2016. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA WireSocialite James Stunt and Helena Robinson arrive at Leeds Cloth Hall Court where he is one of eight defendants on trial over an alleged multimillion-pound money-laundering operation. The former son-in-law of F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone is alleged to have been involved with the operation which saw £266 million deposited in the bank account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield from 2014 to 2016. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Socialite James Stunt and Helena Robinson arrive at Leeds Cloth Hall Court where he is one of eight defendants on trial over an alleged multimillion-pound money-laundering operation. The former son-in-law of F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone is alleged to have been involved with the operation which saw £266 million deposited in the bank account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield from 2014 to 2016. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Stunt reportedly poured “millions” into the project – along with "tens of thousands on stationary" - and claimed he had refused to take illegally sourced gold from Africa.

He said he was "proud" when the then business secretary Vince Cable personally signed off the deal for the industrial complex, which later became part of a criminal investigation.

And Stunt, who said he knew little of the day-to-day workings of the business, vowed to get back into the gold industry, regardless of if his name was cleared during the trial.

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He said: "You don't throw more money into a bent operation. I kept fighting, the police made it impossible.

"I will get back into the gold business if I'm acquitted of this trial, even if an innocent man is found guilty. I will not be restricted. I've done nothing wrong and I think this is unacceptable."

The trial also saw evidence of Stunt meeting with the former Prince of Wales, now King Charles III.

Stunt said he also knew ex-prime ministers David Cameron "intimately", after claiming yesterday (Wed) he was a regular visitor at his luxury Mayfair office.

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Stunt also denied his personal secretary had helped him purchase an Andy Warhol painting by illegally "forging" his name on UK banking documents.

Speaking about the photos of himself and the then Prince of Wales, snapped between 2014 and 2016, Stunt said: "It was either taken at Clarence house or St. James Palace.

"There is more than one photo of me and His Majesty, formally the Prince of Wales.

"They were never taken at any other residents. I have visited Buckingham Palace and other residences, but they are the only two they can be.

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He added about David Cameron: "I knew the PM intimately. I knew Mr Cameron very well before he was Prime Minster."

The court heard that Stunt, who faces a forgery charge, was in the process of buying a £320,000 Andy Warhol painting when he suffered a tennis injury in Los Angeles.

During his brief stint in a "£15,000" a day clinic for the injury, Stunt said executives at City National Bank in the US told him he didn't have enough money to purchase the pricey artwork.

His defence counsel then read a transcription of a text Stunt sent to his secretary, Ms Sota, asking her to "forge" his signature on UK bank documents to allow a transfer.

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Mr Fisher read how Stunt told Ms Rota: “Please forge my signature first thing in the morning.”

Stunt claimed he was "bang on the morphine" during this period for his injury and had meant to use the phrase "forge" in a different context.