YORK gun dealer Gary Hyde has appeared in a British court charged with illegally supplying 32 million rounds of ammunition and tens of thousands of guns.
Hyde, 41, who has resigned as a director of York Guns in Dunnington, was summonsed to Westminster Magistrates Court after being allowed home from the United States, where he is separately accused of smuggling Chinese weaponry into America.
He was committed on conditional bail to appear at Southwark Crown Court later this month, when he will be given his first opportunity to lodge a plea over the latest allegations. A Westminster Magistrates Court spokesman said Hyde was charged with supplying or delivering 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 rifles and 10,000 9mm pistols between March 2006 and December 2007, with the intention of evading a prohibition within the Trade in Goods Control Order 2003.
He faces a second charge under the same order of supplying or delivering 32 million rounds of ammunition, and a third charge under the Proceeds of Crimes Act of receiving money from Deftech Ltd and Poly Technologies Incorporated by means of commission payments for the supply of firearms and ammunition.
A judge at the magistrates court said the alleged offences were in connection with the supply of weaponry between China and Nigeria.
Hyde’s appearances in court are understood to follow an extensive investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The Press reported in January how American court documents had stated that HMRC had launched an investigation in 2007 into Hyde, who was also director of another York business, Jago Ltd.
The documents said that in December 2007, Customs officers searched his home, York Guns and Jago Ltd.
In America, Hyde is accused of smuggling Chinese AK-44 parts into the United States, in breach of American rules banning the importation of Chinese-made weapons or accessories.
He is accused of altering the magazines so they appeared to be made in Bulgaria, which would make them legal for importation.
He has denied the allegations, and his lawyer told The Press last month he had done nothing wrong and should have the case against him dropped.
Peter Zeidenberg said it was for the US government to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty, and there was not any evidence he had done anything wrong.
“If we are unable to persuade the government to drop this case and end up having to go to trial, we are very confident that Mr Hyde will be exonerated at trial,” he said.
It has been reported that it could be up to a year before the trial in America might begin, as officials try to gather evidence abroad, and Mr Zeidenberg has said: “It won’t be any time soon.”
Hyde was arrested in Las Vegas in January while attending the SHOT Show, a massive sales event for firearms distributors, hunters and gun enthusiasts.
He was originally told he must stay in America until his trial could take place, but a judge agreed last month to him going home after he posted $175,000 in bail.
Hyde has been suspended by York Guns on full pay, but has resigned as a director. The company has repeatedly stressed no allegations have been directed towards it, and it is continuing to operate normally.
The company said yesterday in a statement: “Mr Hyde’s suspension does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that he is guilty of any misconduct.”