I don’t often use this blog simply to repeat money laundering stories that are already in the press but some are just too good to ignore. May I introduce you to Paul Bettie. He’s sixty-five now, but back in the day (if that day was in August 1979) he was associated with English rock band Led Zeppelin. Quite what he did for them is rather lost in the mists of time (or perhaps the mists of some other substance) but in Mark Blake’s book about Led Zep – “Bring It On Home” – we are told that Paul and his brother John Bettie were “two of Don Murfet’s security men” and that they were given bags of cash (presumably from ticket sales) to look after: according to Paul Bettie, “at Knebworth I remember being given two bags… with two hundred grand in one and a sawn-off shotgun in the other”.
Flash forward if you will, nearly four decades, to August 2017: Paul Bettie has spent the weekend in Guernsey and is heading home, driving out through the ferry terminal. His car is stopped and searched – and in a bag the officers find £153,200 cash in heat-sealed bags, “like bricks”. In police interviews, Bettie says that he had brought his £90,000 life-savings in cash to Guernsey and had won the rest over the weekend by playing poker. In court, his defence lawyer said that the carrying of large amounts of cash was unconventional for most people but had become a habit for his client since his glory days with Led Zep – and quoted from the Blake book. He also showed that his client had a history of gambling, giving weight to the poker explanation. But the prosecution was unconvinced: more than half the cash seized had been in local currency (even though Bettie had no connection to Guernsey and had never been to the island before), and after Bettie’s arrest he had received a “huge number of phone calls” from people interested to learn his fate – and perhaps that of the money he was carrying. On 21 March 2019 the Guernsey Jurats found by a majority of eight to one that Paul Bettie knew the money was the proceeds of crime and still tried to leave the island with it without making a declaration – in other words, money laundering. And on 17 May 2019 he was jailed for two years. Led Zep puns will be welcomed – I’m coming up with nothing.