December 20 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Two men jailed for Norfolk’s biggest ever fraud have been ordered to pay back almost £9m or spend extra years behind bars.
Christian philanthropist Graham Dacre was the victim of a £12m swindle in 2008, which also saw a German church conned out of 10m Euros.
Norfolk man Mr Dacre had been convinced he would get profits from a high-yield investment fund, and was told it would raise funds for humanitarian projects.
Five people were jailed for the swindle, and now prosecutors are seeking to claw back their ill-gotten gains.
Cemal Esmene, 58, and Ian Yorkshire, 64, were both sentenced to 11 years in prison after they were both found guilty of fraud charges in 2012.
And the pair were back at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, where Judge Nicholas Coleman heard details of their assets in a proceeds of crime hearing.
Mark Fenhalls, prosecuting, said Esmene had £7.1m tied up in property across Europe and in Coutts bank accounts, while Yorkshire had £1.2m including property, cars and almost £500,000 of hidden assets.
Judge Nicholas Coleman ordered Esmene to pay back £7.1m or face an extra eight years in prison, and for Yorkshire to stump up £1.7m or face seven more years.
He said Mr Dacre and the church had lost a combined total of £19m to the fraud.
Cash confiscated from the fraudsters would be returned to the victims, with Mr Dacre receiving 60% (£5.4m) and the German church receiving 40% (£3.6m).
The two defendants have six months to pay the total or face serving the extra years in jail in addition to their 11-year terms.
It is possible that the six-month deadline could be extended to 12 months if the men can show reasonable efforts are being made to raise the total, with agents instructed to sell property, the court heard.
Esmene, who was joined by a Turkish interpreter, had £3.6m in the UK including in accounts with private bank Coutts, the court heard.
He had a further £3.2m in northern Cyprus, including a string of properties, but the prosecution said these had been frozen by the authorities in Cyprus pending court proceedings there and there could be difficulty repatriating them.
The court heard Esmene’s other assets included cars, a £250,000 property in Turkey and £4,000 in a Spanish bank account.
Andrew Bodnar, for Esmene, said his client had disclosed the Coutts accounts to prosecutors of his own free will, and they had not previously been aware of them.
Mr Fenhalls said Yorkshire had £1.2m of realisable assets included properties and cars, and a hidden assets totalling almost £500,000 - with transactions to unknown parties.
Judge Coleman described the fraud as “cunning, if inelegant”.
He questioned why Esmene had decided to co-operate at this stage, after pleading his innocence, and asked whether there was further money.
Mr Bodnar, for Esmene, said: “It could just be the reality of facing court proceedings, but the figures are what they are.”
He added: “Whatever may have gone before in these proceedings, he has engaged in the confiscation process.”
Alan Hunt, 67, who was jailed for nine years for fraud offences in 2012, was ordered to pay back £274,000 at a hearing at Norwich Crown Court on Monday.
George Katcharian, 62, was jailed for 11 years each in 2012.
He was also due to face a proceeds of crime hearing yesterday, but this was adjourned until a date to be fixed.