Woman 'laundered crates of cash'

A WOMAN helped launder 'crates and suitcases' of cash making up the profits from multi-million dollar drug deals, a court heard yesterday, writes David Connett.

May Forwell, 40, used the money to buy yachts, valuable jewellery and antiques as well as properties all round the world. US authorities claim her husband, Michael, masterminded one of the world's largest cannabis-smuggling rings. He is fighting extradition to the US accused of smuggling cannabis worth dollars 143m ( pounds 98.6m).

Mrs Forwell, of West Hampstead, north London, allegedly ran her husband's business affairs after he went on the run from police following a massive drugs seizure by US Customs officers in June 1988, Martin Field, for the prosecution, told Southwark Crown Court.

Mr Forwell disappeared after a boat he bought was stopped by the US Coastguard with 65 tons of marijuana on board. He hid from the police in Singapore and Australia. His wife travelled with him. In 1989 he returned to Britain to claim an inheritance of pounds 330,000.

'After collecting the money, Forwell decided to settle down in London with a false identity and led a double life running a shop selling Oriental antiques and objects.' His wife remained in Singapore but they stayed in close contact. Many of his letters to her were found, Mr Field said. 'They reveal Mrs Forwell's knowledge of her husband's crime and the need to protect her husband's identity as well as the source of their funds.'

Mr Forwell is accused of shipping hundreds of tons of marijuana into the US. The deals netted them 'crates and suitcases' of cash.

Mrs Forwell denies assisting her husband retain the benefits of drug trafficking. The case continues.

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