December 6 2013 Latest news:
Melissa York, Reporter
Saturday, April 7, 2012
A Stratford man was sentenced to two years in prison for swindling a local council out of over £250,000.
Robert Fenton, 41, of Essex Street, was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday (March 22) convicted of money laundering after a four day trial.
A bogus letter was sent to Medway Council advising it of a construction company’s change of bank details, with an instruction that any new invoices should be paid to the new account. As a result, a bank payment was made to the new account for £256,101.
Officers believe Fenton was not the author of this letter but was involved in laundering the money for an organised crime gang.
The account was subsequently identified by investigating officers from Kent Police as belonging to Fenton, trading as `A-List’. The bank account had been open for eight years and was based in London.
Enquiries by officers led to Fenton who was living in a flat in Stratford, with a business unit number at The Business Design Centre, Upper Street, Islington.
Within three days of the money reaching Fenton’s account £65,000 was withdrawn by him in cash - £60,000 was transferred by him to other accounts in his name and the rest transferred to other people or companies. None of the £256,000 has been recovered.
Investigating officers, discovered that other major construction companies in the UK had also had similar bogus letters sent out in their names.
Fenton was arrested at his home address on September 21 2010. Officers searched his home and business unit and seized documents that proved the money passed through his account. Six staff at the premises who were not involved in Fenton’s criminal activity all left the business, which officers do not believe was part of the scam.
Martin Bradbeer, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate’s Serious Economic Crime Unit, said: “There is no doubt that there has been a professional organised gang behind these crimes which have taken place across the country. The money laundered by Fenton was moved to various people and companies, none of which have been traced.
“Fenton rented his premises at the Business Design Centre and ran a modelling agency. He was also involved in event organisation. He no longer has the business.”