Sunday, 17 December 2017

Accused arms dealer: I was matchmaker

A SHIPLAKE man accused of brokering a deal to sell four Chinese fighter jets to the Ghana air force told

A SHIPLAKE man accused of brokering a deal to sell four Chinese fighter jets to the Ghana air force told customs officers he was only a matchmaker, a court heard.

Christopher McDowell, of Badgers Walk, claimed he was involved in the initial stages of the negotiations but then the talks had been “government to government” and he was no longer needed.

The 55-year-old chief executive of arms brokers Wellfind is accused of failing to have a licence for arranging the deal even though it was between two foreign powers.

Guildford Crown Court was told that he received $4 million but said only about one third of it was for him.

McDowell said he had always applied for UK export licences for his activities but that in this case because he had not signed a formal contract and was not involved in the main deal he was not sure what he needed.

In a recording of an interview with customs officers in 2007, which was played to the court, he said: “I’m not even sure of any of this business. I never have been. I’m not sure whether I needed to apply for a broking licence or not.”

McDowell is charged with two counts of dealing arms in Ghana without a UK licence and two counts of promoting arms sales in Sudan, which has a history of civil war.

Business partner John Charlesworth, 50, from Aldgate in Lincolnshire, faces two counts of promoting arms sales in Sudan. Both men deny the charges against them and the trial continues.

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