Convicted car dealer gets 11 additional months for hiding his assets
When Kirk Michael Claus was sentenced to three years imprisonment in August 2012 for conspiring to defraud the customers of Chequered Flag Car Sales and money laundering offences the conviction triggered a Proceeds of Crime investigation.
Claus was subject to a Crown Court Restraint Order that prohibited him disposing of or dealing with any of his assets pending a confiscation hearing.
Following a hearing at Leeds Crown Court yesterday (Thursday 1st August) Claus was sentenced to an additional 11 months imprisonment as a result of three breaches of the Restraint Order by dishonestly attempting to frustrate the investigation by hiding and dissipating his substantial assets by placing them out of the jurisdiction of the Court.
His Honour Judge Kearl QC in sentencing Claus said: “These were deliberate, determined and repeated attempts to hide your assets. I have made Orders and expect them to be carried out”. The judge stressed that if any further acts of contempt are brought before him Claus could expect much longer sentences.
The case was brought by City of York Council on behalf of the National Trading Standards Board funded regional Scambuster Team. Colin Rumford, Head of Public Protection at City of York Council, said: “The scale of Mr Claus’ attempts to hide his assets was quite staggering. Scambuster officers working with the North East Regional Asset Recovery team, the West Yorkshire Todmorden based Upper Valley Local Policing Team, and other police forces seized over 100 hidden cars and motor cycles from locations as far afield as Northampton, Wales and Heysham dock near Liverpool.”
Judge Kearl also issued an Order authorising the sale of cars, motorcycles and other items that had been seized by officers.
Councillor Linsay Cunningham-Cross, Cabinet Member for Crime and Community Safety for City of York Council, said: “This is an excellent example of officers using their powers robustly and working in partnership with other agencies to reinforce the message crime simply does not pay. Rogue traders may once have considered the punishment of the courts as an inconvenience but now they can expect to lose the assets they’ve acquired through their criminality.”
Chairman of the National Trading Standards Board, Lord Toby Harris said: “Today’s court case brought by Trading Standards Scambusters sends a strong clear message to fraudsters that crime does not pay.
"Since bringing the criminal car dealers of Chequered Flag Car Sales to justice a year ago trading standards officers have continued to work tirelessly to detect and seize considerable assets that Kirk Claus and six co- defendants accumulated with the money they made fraudulently. The huge seizure of more than 100 vehicles, most of which belonged to Claus, including many luxury models, are now due to be sold at auction for an estimated value of more than £1 million - this will hit him where it hurts.”
For more information about this case contact the regional Scambusters office on 01904 551502 or to speak to the National Trading Standards Board regarding a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
NTSB provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
Scambusters is a NTSB funded project aimed at targeting rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing a support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:
1.Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CeNTSA)
2.North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)
3.Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)
4.Trading Standards North West (TSNW)
5.Tri Region Scambusters (TRS), on behalf of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSEL), East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and London Trading Standards Association (LOTSA)
6.Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)
7.Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and
8.Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)
There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.
The Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Trading Standards Group is hosted by City of York Council