UK arms dealer jailed for shipping arms to Nigeria


The dealer played a role in the shipment of thousands of AK47 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria.


A U.K. arms dealer who helped ship arms into Nigeria has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for breaching U.K. trade controls and concealing criminal property.

Gary Hyde was sentenced at the Southwark Crown Court in London for his role in shipping thousands of AK47 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria.

In sentencing Mr. Hyde, 43; Nicholas Loraine-Smith, the trial judge, said that he was caught in the deal, in which he acted as the middleman, hiding more than £1m in commission payments, due to his “greed.”

Though the shipping of arms from Beijing to Abuja was lawful, Mr. Hyde failed to get a licence to participate in the deal because he feared it would be refused.

However, he was attracted to the deal by the huge profits to be made, Mr. Loraine-Smith said.

“Applying for a licence would have been easy. There was no evidence you would have got one, the question was never asked. I suspect you thought you would not,” said the judge.

“If you had, you would have also been concerned about the UK authorities finding out about your very substantial earnings,” he added.

Mr. Hyde’s legitimate York Guns had, in the past, helped broker various arms deals, including those involving the British government.

But in 2006, he took part in an arms deal in which about 40,000 AK47s, 30,000 rifles, 10,000 9mm pistols, and 32 million rounds of ammunition were shipped from China to Nigeria.

In addition to a conviction for his involvement in the arms movement between March, 2006, and November, 2007; Mr. Hyde was also found guilty of concealing criminal property between March 2006 and December 2008 after he hid the profits in a bank in Liechtenstein.

“You got carried away by the enormous profits that could be made elsewhere and, it would seem, in some less responsible company,” Mr. Loraine-Smith told him.

“I accept you opened your account in Liechtenstein to reduce your tax liability in lawful ways but it was there conveniently for you to launder the money from this unlawful deal.”

Stephen Solley, Mr. Hyde’s counsel, said that his client’s previous “impeccable record” had included alerting UK authorities about an arms deal between China and Libya in which “the very latest missile systems” were heading towards the north African nation.

A forfeiture and destruction hearing will be held at the court on December 17.

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