Stafford fraudster forced to pay back over £400,000

25/07/2011

A Stafford businessman who was jailed for his role in two major frauds has today been ordered to pay back £406,000.

Paul Cope, formerly of Barn Bank Manor in Hyde Lea, Stafford, appeared at a confiscation hearing at Birmingham Crown Court.

Cope, who ran multiple businesses including Kingdom Finance Ltd, was jailed for five years and four months at Stafford Crown Court in July 2010 for his leading role in a £25 million fraud. The 46-year-old, who admitted conspiracy to defraud, acted as broker to falsify lease agreements to generate what were, effectively, unsecured high interest loans to customers. He ran the fraud with Andrew Oxlade and Brian Challiner, who were also jailed, from his offices in Wolverhampton Road, Stafford.

Cope was also jailed for five years in July last year - to run concurrently with the other sentence - for a mortgage fraud which he admitted at Stafford Crown Court in June 2010. This involved inflating the value of Barn Bank Manor so that he could secure a £3 million mortgage. Chartered surveyor Christopher Jarvis (66) from Longdon, near Rugeley, was jailed for two years after admitting the same fraud.

The investigations were carried out by officers from Staffordshire Police's Economic Crime Unit (ECU).

Today's hearing saw a confiscation hearing made in the sum of £406,000. The order represents the amount which the court found Cope had available to pay.

In addition, as a result of the police investigations, Cope had Barn Bank Manor, his villa in Marbella, four other residential properties, several business premises, cars including a Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Range Rover and lease vehicles including a fleet of Mercedes, repossessed.

DC Mark Kelsall, who led the inquiry, said: "Cope surrounded himself with all the trimmings of a luxury lifestyle using the proceeds of his serious crimes.

"Not only has Cope lost his liberty, he has now been stripped of his array of properties, high-performance cars and other items - such as expensive jewellery that he amassed.

"The confiscation order, while significant, represents only a portion of the property and possessions - worth millions of pounds - that have been taken from Cope as part of our extensive inquiries."

The confiscation order follows similar orders handed to Challiner (62), from Gnosall, who had to pay back £243,714, and Oxlade (54), from Stafford, who was told to pay £53,643. Both admitted conspiracy to defraud. Oxlade was jailed for five years and four months and Challiner for three years and eight months.

Detective Inspector Andy Spiers, head of the ECU, said: "Today's hearing reinforces Staffordshire Police's commitment to make sure criminals do not profit from their crimes.

"Last year (April 2010 - March 2011) offenders were forced to pay back almost £2.5 million. We work hard with the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to hit criminals where it hurts - in their pockets."

Ed Beltrami, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is sending out a clear message to criminals that crime will not pay in the West Midlands. 
 
"The CPS is working with our partners in the local criminal justice system to identify cases for early restraint and to freeze the assets of defendants while the trial is in progress. This then becomes a major tool for enforcement at the conclusion of the trial where, upon conviction, a confiscation order is made. 
 
"We are determined to use these powers given to us to reduce crime, disrupt criminal enterprises and remove the negative role models from our society."

More details about asset recovery in Staffordshire are available at www.staffordshire.police.uk/payback