Proceeds of Crime success sees rogue trader's assets taken
“Any rogue trader activity will be dealt with severely by government law enforcers” – that’s the message from Powys County Council following a successful Proceeds of Crime hearing.
The warning was issued by the council’s trading standards service after it carried out a Proceeds of Crime investigation following a successful prosecution of a Carmarthenshire builder for targeting vulnerable elderly people. Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court ordered the handing over of approximately £80,000 of the trader’s assets as well as a further £41,000 in prosecution costs.
At a previous court hearing, a timetable was set out under the Proceeds of Crime Act to determine how much criminal benefit had been made by the trader and how much assets he had to repay back.
The Proceeds of Crime hearing took place at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court last month (17 February) and resulted in a confiscation order for approximately £80,000 from the trader’s company and to be paid as compensation to 16 sets of victims who the trader had taken monies off. The court ordered that the order must be paid in six months and that a default sentence of 19 months imprisonment would be imposed if it was not paid in the time period laid down.
The court also ordered the trader to approximately £41,000 in costs within six months after an application from trading standards. These costs also being the cost of the original investigation.
The Proceeds of Crime action took place after the trader was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, in August 2012 for using aggressive commercial practices across Powys and parts of south Wales. The trader had pleaded guilty to seven charges including ‘Aggressive Commercial Practices’ offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in April 2012.
Cllr John Powell, the council’s Cabinet Member responsible for trading standards, said: "We support legitimate businesses and local tax payers by targeting illegal shadow economy activities like rogue trading, and those who have little regard to the vulnerable in our society.”
Clive Jones, the council's Acting Professional Lead for trading standards, said: “Firm action is needed on any issues related to rogue trading to promote fair trading within our community. We also have to take the criminal benefit away from those that trade criminally.
“In this case the £80,000 confiscation will go back to the victims who were traumatised by the activities of this trader which is clearly some form of justice to the harm caused. If they default on this order and do not pay, they will go to prison for 19 months. And then when they come out, they will still have to pay.”
“We are pleased with the outcome of this Proceeds of Crime action and would like to thank Dyfed Powys Police’s Financial Investigation Team for their help in achieving this outcome. We see such actions as a clear deterrent to any that attempt these illegal ventures and financial investigation is now an important part of our toolkit to deal with offenders.”
The council's trading standards service can be contacted on Brecon 01874 623420; Llandrindod Wells 01597 826032; Newtown 01686 617524. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.powys.gov.uk/tradingstandards
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