James Stunt, the former son-in-law of billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, took “a very hands-on approach” as his company became involved in a “sophisticated” £266m money-laundering operation, a court heard.
Stunt is one of eight defendants on trial accused of laundering cash from criminal activity by using it to buy gold.
Prosecutors claim the “criminal cash” was deposited in the bank account of Bradford gold dealer Fowler Oldfield over two years.
It was then used to buy millions of pounds worth of gold bars which were melted down into “untraceable, unidentifiable” gold grain, the court heard.
Leeds Cloth Hall Court previously heard that hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time was brought in carrier bags and holdalls to Fowler Oldfield. One courier arrived with cash disguised in a takeaway food box, the prosecution said.
Jurors were told the alleged money laundering then “went national” as one of Fowler Oldfield’s directors, Greg Frankel, became a vice-president of Stunt & Co, and Stunt’s premises in London also started receiving cash.
Prosecutor Nicholas Clarke QC said the defendants hid the origin of the money by washing it through a company bank account and using the proceeds to buy gold.
On Wednesday, jurors were shown messages between Stunt’s employees and co-defendants Alex Tulloch and Francesca Sota, and staff at Fowler Oldfield.
The court heard one message from Tulloch in November 2015 said: “James not happy though … James wants to know what his profit is for this week. Concerned about profitability etc.”
Prosecutor Nicholas Clarke QC said this showed Stunt was “taking a very hands-on approach even though he was a very long way away at the time”.
“He was not involved in the day-to-day management of the buying and selling of gold and was not included in most of the correspondence via electronic means,” he said.
“However, emails between others demonstrate that he was very much aware of and authorized what was going on.”
Stunt has three children with Petra Ecclestone, daughter of F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone. The couple married in 2011, and were divorced in 2017.
Five defendants from Fowler Oldfield – Greg Frankel, Daniel Rawson, Paul Miller, Heidi Buckler and Haroon “Harry” Rashid – all say the prosecution cannot prove that any of the cash was criminal property.
Stunt and the defendants from his company – Tulloch and Sota – say they “don’t know whether it was”, the court has heard.
But prosecutors say it is “blindingly obvious this was criminal cash” and that each of the defendants “must at the very least have suspected that the source of the money was criminal in origin”.
Clarke told jurors the cash deposits into the Fowler Oldfield bank account aroused the suspicions of bank staff because “they were of such an amount, on a daily basis, as may come from a Premier League football stadium on a match day or similar size venue or event”.
On some days “well over a million pounds in used notes” was being paid into the Fowler Oldfield account, he said.
Buckler, 45, Frankel, 44, Miller, 45, Rashid, 51, Rawson, 45, Sota, 34, Stunt, 40 and Tulloch, 41, all deny money laundering.
Stunt and Sota also deny forgery.
The trial continues.