Five sentenced after furnishing fraud

Five people involved in a £500,000 fraud and money laundering scheme involving flooring and furniture companies have been sentenced.

Neale Rothera, 49, was described by the Insolvency Service as the scheme’s ‘ringleader, and was for six years and four months at Leicester Crown Court.

Rothera set up businesses, which claimed to sell furniture and carpets, and used them as vehicles to commit the offences.

Simon Wakefield, Frederick Penn, Shona Walters, and Laura Perkins were all sentenced at the same hearing. The Insolvency Service said the four companies Rothera helped establish claimed to be in the business of selling carpets and furniture in the Leicestershire area, but were ‘in large part a sham’.

Mark Stephens, Insolvency Service chief investigator says the fraud was ‘very sophisticated, persistent, and carefully planned. Neale Rothera was the common theme throughout, devising the schemes and orchestrating their implementation. Rothera was ably assisted by the others who fronted the companies or helped him launder the fraudulently-obtained funds while he acted as a shadow director.

‘None of the individuals involved were exploited or coerced into taking part in this criminal behaviour and we hope these sentences serve a warning to those considering such fraudulent actions.’

The offences happened in 2012 and 2013, involving invoice factoring for Thistle Interiors Ltd, Sorrel Trading Ltd, Wakefield Trading Ltd, and Penn Interiors Ltd.

Rothera enlisted the help of Walters, Wakefield and Penn to act upon his behalf as directors, as no bank would agree a credit agreement with him.

The three ‘played a willing and active role’ in securing the factoring agreements, the Insolvency Service added.

Rothera used money from this fraud towards compensation he was ordered to pay after a previous fraud conviction.

Wakefield withdrew £235,340 on Rothera’s behalf between July and August 2012.

Rothera pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation and one count of money laundering and, along with his prison sentence, was disqualified as a company director for nine years.

Walters, 54, and Penn, 76, received a 19-month suspended prison sentence, 20 days of rehabilitation activity, and 140 hours of unpaid work, after pleading guilty to one count of fraud by false representation and one count of money laundering each.

Wakefield received a 22-month suspended prison sentence, 10 days of rehabilitation activity, and 175 hours of unpaid work, after pleading guilty to one count of fraud by false representation and one count of money laundering.

Perkins, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, receiving an 18-month community order and 50 hours of unpaid work. 

The director of Sorrel Trading Ltd was not prosecuted due to insufficient evidence. 

Some £562,901.64 was never recovered by the banks involved in the invoice factoring.

Image: Google


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