Waterfoot businessman ordered to pay back £410,000 after fake companies con (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Waterfoot businessman ordered to pay back £410,000 after fake companies con
A MANAGING director who stole £390,000 from his employers to fund a ‘life of luxury’ has been ordered to pay back £410,000.
Colin Fell, 55, used the cash to renovate his £527,000 farmhouse in Rossendale and give his children a private education, a court heard.
He used an elaborate scheme creating fake companies and charging his employers Norpe UK for work that was never done by the bogus suppliers.
As a result of his fraud, four out of the 10 staff lost their jobs at the refrigeration company.
Fell was jailed for four and a half years after admitting seven counts of theft last July.
The court heard he spent a fortune converting a farmhouse, including building stables for his horses. He also splashed out on quad bikes and paid off his own credit card debts.
During a proceeds of crime hearing at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, Fell was ordered to pay back £410,000 or will face a further four years in prison if he fails to pay within six months.
This amount took into account the loss of revenue for the company on the stolen proceeds.
Ian Horrocks, from Financial Investigations Unit at Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said: “Fell helped himself to thousands of pounds by deceiving the system.
"He lived a life of luxury as a result and, meanwhile, other ordinary people trying to make a living were left jobless as the firm went through stringent cost-cutting measures to off-set the missing money.
“Fell has now lost the wealth he made off the backs of the company that employed him.
“The result once again demonstrates that we will not stop until criminals have paid back their debt to society and their victims - in this case the company.”
Judge Clement Goldstone QC told Liverpool Crown Court that Mr Fell must repay the sum under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Fell pleaded guilty to stealing over £390,000 on the first day of his trial last year despite having initially telling police in interviews that he was innocent.
He began working for Norpe UK in 1996, hiding a previous fraud conviction from the 1980s when he was jailed for three-and-a-half years.
From 2002, he abused his position of trust by setting up companies and invoicing Norpe for products and services that were non-existent.
Norpe's international financial director brought in a forensic accountant in November 2006 after receiving complaints about the management of its UK branch and identifying some irregularities with suppliers.
Fell, originally from Leigh, was immediately suspended and the accountants discovered a number of forged and falsified invoices.
The matter was reported to GMP in October 2007 and the Serious Crime Division's Commercial Fraud Unit launched an investigation, arresting Fell in February 2010.
Acre Hill Farm in Edgeside Lane, Whitewell Bottom, has since changed hands and its new owners have no connection to Mr Fell.