A 56-year-old British millionaire is facing jail after he was convicted on Tuesday of selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq and other countries.
James McCormick was found guilty of three counts of fraud at London’s Old Bailey court for selling completely ineffective devices based on an American novelty golf ball finder.
McCormick made an estimated £50 million(N12.1bn) from sales of his three models to Iraq, Belgium and the United Nations for use in Lebanon.
“The devices did not work and he knew they did not work,” prosecutor Richard Whittam told jurors.
“And despite the fact they did not work, people bought them for a handsome but unwarranted profit.”
The businessman, who is from Langport in Somerset, southwest England, is believed to have made around £37 million from sales to Iraq alone, while other customers included Georgia and Niger.
McCormick told the court he had also sold the detectors to the Egyptian army, Kenyan police, Hong Kong’s prison service and Thai border control.
He used glossy brochures and the Internet as means of marketing the detectors to governments around the world, with advertising material showing the devices being used to find explosives, drugs, ivory and people.
Whittam said McCormick had made “fantastic” claims about the detectors, including that they could track objects a kilometre (0.6 miles) underground.
One of the models was sold for as much as $40,000(about N6.3m)per unit, Whittam said.
McCormick told the court that one of his detectors had been used to check a hotel in Romania before a US president visited in the 1990s.
“I never had any negative results from customers,” the businessman said.
McCormick walks free for now as he is out on bail, until his sentencing on May 2.