Forgers jailed for banknote plan

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A TEAM of forgers who planned to flood the economy with millions of pounds' worth of fake banknotes during the European football championships in 1996 were yesterday jailed for a total of 26 years.

Thomas McAnea and Raymond Dean masterminded the plot, which the trial judge said "struck at the root" of commercial and economic life. Three others were also sent to jail, and a sixth man was fined after the eight- week trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The gang, all of Glasgow, who were the first in Scotland to use a hi- tech lithographic printer, planned to use the army of football fans heading south to unwittingly distribute the notes. Their printer, in a former joiner's workshop, could produce pounds 1m worth of fake English pounds 20 notes every couple of hours. Forgeries of Scottish pounds 5 notes, Danish Kroner notes, MoT certificates, duty-free vouchers and stamps were also produced.

An anonymous tip-off put police on the trail, and Operation Wembley began. After detailed investigation, they raided the workshop in Partick. Despite having been arrested, charged and bailed, the forgers were undeterred and set up a second operation across the city.

McAnea, 48, a former print union official, was found guilty of counterfeiting and conspiracy to defraud charges and jailed for 10 years. Passing sentence, the trial judge Lord Cameron, said: "You will be well aware that counterfeiting currency notes has the potential to destroy confidence in the lawful issued currency of a country ..."It is a crime which strikes at the root of the commercial and economic life of a country."

Dean, 44, found guilty of counterfeiting and conspiracy to defraud, was jailed for eight and a half years. Printer John McGregor, 40, was jailed for five years; graphic designer Iain Ruxton, 28, for two years; and Dennis McGinnis, 39, also a printer, for one year. The sixth member of the gang, Geoffrey Renshaw, involved in the distribution of counterfeit duty-free vouchers, was fined pounds 1,000.