Monday, January 08, 2018

Fraudsters Walk Away Scot-free

Criminals and dishonest debtors are exploiting weaknesses in the bankruptcy system to keep hold of their assets and wealth, a BBC investigation has revealed.
The BBC team found former millionaires enjoying lavish lifestyles, seemingly untouched by insolvency.
Convicted fraudster Barry Hughes, who declared himself bankrupt in 2014 owing £10m and claiming he had no assets, was seen along with his wife driving a line of luxury cars worth £500,000.
Former millionaire mining tycoon Graham Gillespie failed to disclose multiple assets to creditors during his £12.8m bankruptcy. At the time, one asset being sought by his Trustee to pay debts was an exclusive private registration plate - GG1 - worth £180,000. Gillespie told the authorities he'd sold it to pay off a gambling debt. But the BBC filmed him at the plush Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire driving a new Bentley - complete with GG1 licence plate.
Any bankrupt found to have been dishonest or reckless during the process can be given a Bankruptcy Restriction Order (BRO). Under the order, which can last for up to 15 years, a bankrupt is banned from being a company director. They also cannot form, manage - or even give the impression of managing - a limited company. A breach could lead to up to two years in prison.
Malcolm Scott, a former treasurer of the Conservative Party in Scotland, was given a BRO in 2015 after he was found to have lied to his Trustee. The former multi-millionaire was found to have transferred shares, secretly sold a luxury car without declaring the proceeds, and failed to declare a speedboat and other assets in the Bahamas. He is under the restrictions until 2021. The BBC  heard that Scott was running a property company, with interests across the UK, in breach of his BRO. Malcolm Scott told a BBC undercover "investor" that the company was run by himself and Duncan, the registered director, was a "silent partner". The BBC also found that Scott had formed a property company called Northside Residential Ltd, another breach of his BRO.
Richard Dennis, chief executive of Scotland's Accountant in Bankruptcy, the agency which gives out BROs, admitted no-one "proactively" monitored those given the orders. He said: "As with all BROs, there is no active monitoring of the BRO system." He refused to discuss individual cases, but added it was "serious" if people were breaching their BROs. "... we'll have a look at the case, and I can't say anything further than that."

The law is, of course, applied to its fullest extent if a benefit's claimant happens to break the rules. Government departments with a host of inspectors and plenty of powers to investigate exist those on benefits, but apparently not so for the rich fiddlers. One law for us and one law for them. 

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