Convicted York fraudster could face 15 years in Spanish jail after losing extradition battle

Paul Blanchard arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court at a previous hearing. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
29 Jun 2020 @ 6.15 pm
| Crime

A retired corporate consultant from York has lost his extradition battle against being sent to Spain for his alleged role as a financial adviser to criminal gangs.

Paul Blanchard, 74, allegedly helped criminals in Tenerife launder and invest their ill-gotten cash between 1999 and 2001.

District judge Michael Snow, sitting at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said Blanchard has seven days to launch an appeal and he could be extradited within 17 days.

The judge told Blanchard who appeared via videolink: “I must order you surrender to Spain for prosecution on these allegations.”

Blanchard was also ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.

European warrant

A European Arrest Warrant was issued in April 2018.

Blanchard has claimed that statements he freely gave to the Spanish police without a lawyer or interpreter present in 2001 in an effort to help them prosecute the ring leaders are now being used to incriminate him almost 20 years later.

Blanchard supplied information on Lebanese-born businessman Mohamed Derbah, who allegedly laundered money through timeshare sales and fraudulent holiday packages.

He now claims the Spanish authorities are using these statements against him in order to build a stronger case against Derbah and to prosecute him as a co-defendant.

Blanchard was arrested in York

Jailed in 2008

Blanchard, formerly a corporate consultant specialising in offshore services, was jailed in the UK in 2008 for his part in a series of linked frauds.

He admitted his part in a passport fraud, laundering £375,000 and trying to steal £4.3 million from a London bank and transfer it to Spain.

If convicted of the new charges, Blanchard could face up to 15 years in a Spanish jail.

Lawyers for Blanchard had previously argued that the case against him was a final attempt to break the 20-year stalemate with Derbah, who has still not been prosecuted and is understood to be on bail.

Blanchard was arrested in his York home in 2018 by North Yorkshire Police.