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Cox loses bid to cut jail term

Money launderer Roger Cox lost his bid to cut his sentence after failing to convince the Appeal Court his ill-gotten gains all came from gambling dens.

Cox’s lawyer Charles Richardson had argued his jail term should be reduced from five years to three years, saying the nearly $2.3 million Cox laundered was only the profits of minor criminal activity.

However, the Appeal Court panel argued such a large amount of money must have been yielded from a very serious offence, and ruled his five-year sentence appropriate.

It would have been much longer, they said, if the source of his funds had been drugs.

Cox was jailed last April after admitting using a network of 33 people to launder the cash between 2004 and 2009.

Shortly after he was arrested in April 2009, hundreds of thousands of dollars were found in his house and in his safe deposit, according to the judgment by President Justice Edward Zacca, Sir Anthony Evans and Sir Scott Baker.

Cox initially claimed the money had been given to him by a Mr Robinson who had since died.

The judgment states: “A review of the appellant’s known finances, lifestyle and expenditure during the relevant period strongly suggested he had not only benefited from his criminal activity, but that by the level of his benefit he was very close to the antecedent offending.

“Although it is difficult to accept that $2.3 million was the proceeds of running a gambling den or dens, that was the basis of the appellant’s plea and the prosecution had no evidence to establish that there was any other source. Understandably, therefore, the plea was accepted.”

At the appeal, Mr Richardson pointed out the maximum penalty for running a gaming house was two years, but the judges argued that had no relevance to Cox’s sentencing for money laundering.

The judgment states: “He [Mr Richardson] accepted that money laundering was a different offence from running a gambling den, but contended that the criminal conduct giving rise to the funds was low on the scale of gravity and that the sentence should not exceed three years’ imprisonment.

“We cannot accept this submission. The link between the laundering and running a gambling den or dens is at best tenuous and rests on no more than an assertion by the appellant.

“The launderings were stand-alone offences committed for reasons independent of the gaming. The position is very different from, for example, laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking, where the criminal scheme may well involve transferring the proceeds of crime outside Bermuda.

“The appellant has given no detail of his gaming operation or operations, not even where it took place or how the deceased Mr Robinson was involved. Nor has he explained why it was necessary to undertake so many different laundering procedures.

“The amount and period involved (nearly $2.3 million over five years) indicates that the underlying offence, whatever it was, was of an equivalent scale.

“If that offence was, as the appellant claims, the keeping of a gaming house, that was not only an unlawful but a very substantial operation.”

Passing sentence a year ago, Chief Justice Richard Ground had said the scale of the crime was out of the ordinary. Cox signed an order at that time, allowing the courts to confiscate $1.47 million in assets including cash found at his home and jewellery.

The judgment states: “There is a strong public interest in upholding the integrity of the financial sector and deterring those who would subvert it and that is particularly important in relation to Bermuda.

“Integrity of the financial sector is of crucial importance to the Island’s well being. Those who jeopardise its reputation, whether in a large or small way, can expect severe punishment.”

It adds: “This was a bad case of money laundering whatever the history of the funds before they were laundered by the appellant. In our view, five years’ imprisonment was an entirely appropriate sentence.

“Had the source of the funds been drug money, this would have been an additional aggravating feature and a significantly longer sentence would have been appropriate.”

Cox’s friend Michelle Lindsay was also jailed last April, for helping launder $24,000 of his money through her bank accounts, despite suspecting it was the proceeds of crime.

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Published March 23, 2012 at 10:04 am (Updated March 23, 2012 at 10:03 am)

Cox loses bid to cut jail term

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