Drugs gang link to pounds 6m conman

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A CONMAN with links to London's top drugs gang was convicted yesterday of a pounds 6m "sting". Anthony Passmore, 52, was arrested by police as he enticed foreign businessmen and investors to London, intending to steal a further pounds 12m. He told his victims he was a wealthy Dublin businessman and Bank of Ireland executive.

In fact, Passmore was a professional fraudster with links to the notorious Adams family drugs gang. On Friday the Adams' key money launderer Saul "Solly" Nahome, 48, was shot dead outside his home in Finchley, north London.

In September, the gang's second most senior member, Sean "Tommy" Adams, was jailed for seven years for importing pounds 2m worth of cannabis.

When Passmore was arrested he was about to collect a banker's draft for nearly pounds 12m which had been cleared by the Bank of Scotland. He was posing as Anthony Barry, a leading Irish banker. The police have identified 13 victims rooked by Passmore's gang in a six-month period last year. There are believed to be more. He had conned one group of Hong Kong businessmen out of pounds 750,000. An Italian-Canadian family lost pounds 200,000 and an American psychologist lost pounds 75,000. Passmore lured victims to London with promises of lucrative investments in African countries.

When the Italian-Canadian family realised they had been conned they sent an associate to take revenge. But before he could deal with Passmore he was detained by police at a London hotel and sent home.

At the end of a seven-week trial at the Middlesex Guildhall Court, Passmore was convicted of conspiracy to defraud by a majority verdict. He will be sentenced by the end of the month with his co-accused Keith Bartlett, who had pleaded guilty. A third defendant, Raymond Ayar, went on the run.

Only pounds 50,000 of the pounds 6m has been recovered. Police are investigating whether Passmore has hidden assets in the United States and Spain.