Forged Israeli passports found in office of safe deposit thief

By Robyn Rosen, March 3, 2011

A businessman who ran a corrupt safe deposit company which had £500 million worth of criminal assets seized by police will be sentenced this week.

Milton Woolf, who was previously on the search committee at New London Synagogue to find a rabbi after the death of Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs, charged criminals up to £70,000 to stash their loot in safety deposit boxes with “no questions asked”.

Mr Woolf, 55, was the director of Safe Deposits Centres Limited (SDC Ltd), where police raids three years ago led to the seizing of £56million in cash, five firearms, thousands of images of child pornography, gold bars, drugs and fraudulent passports.

Mr Woolf, who lives in a mansion block in St John's Wood, had stolen more than £50,000 by drilling into safety deposit boxes.

Police revealed this week that one of the boxes raided contained a gun, clothing and money which had been stored 24 hours after a murder.

Today, the court heard that among the items discovered during the police raid of Mr Woolf's office were two forged Israeli passports under the names Maya and Moshe Gal.

Prosecuting, Michael Holland QC, said: "Milton Woolf was keen to ensure his business was as successful as he could. He was prepared to close his eyes to criminals.

"Milton Woolf was the controlling figure within the safety deposit businesses. His only concern seems to have been to make a profit, which included his converting or stealing money which he must have known was the proceeds of crime."

Mr Woolf, who led a luxurious lifestyle and owned a Porsche and BMW motorbike, pleaded guilty earlier this year to 14 offences, including money laundering and possession of a firearm.

The court heard that Mr Woolf had flown to Israel in the 90s to negotiate with an Israeli customer who had stored $60,000 in counterfeit money at the Hampstead premises. He met him in Israel to try to get the customer to exchange it for genuine currency.

Defending Mr Woolf, Andrew Bodnar said: "Mr Woolf's reputation has been destroyed by this case.

"It would be wrong to say he was the sole, controlling mind carefully directing everyone else."

The case continues

Last updated: 1:05pm, March 7 2011