A BYFLEET company director has been found guilty on 17 counts of money laundering.
Two elderly Buckinghamshire residents, fleeced by conman Gary Booker and his cowboy roofers for around £300,000 for work valued at £577 in 2013, thought their fortunes had changed when Trading Standards officers turned up to say they had recovered the money.
But they were fake employees, believed to be part of the same cowboy roofing gang, who then tricked the couple out of another £600,000 in ‘up-front fees’ to get their money back.
It wasn’t long before real officers from Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, working with Thames Valley Police, uncovered a trail that linked £435,000 of the Amersham couple’s payments to the account of a company called
And at Aylesbury Crown Court earlier this month, 55-year-old Booker was found guilty on multiple charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He was jailed for three-and-a-half years.
The jury were told Booker, who lives in Queens Avenue, allowed £435,000 to be paid into his business account, which was then quickly paid out in cash amounts of between £10,000 and £60,000.
The court heard how he told investigating officers he had been asked by a man, to whom his former business supplied lorries for block paving, whether he could ‘stick money through your account’ for a big tarmac job.
Booker agreed to let him for 15% commission – around £46,000 – as long as ‘it was all above board’, but said there were no receipts and it was always in cash.
He said he couldn’t recall individual transactions but that they didn’t give him any cause for concern. He treated them as business transactions and denied he had ‘turned a blind eye’ to them.
Sentencing, Recorder Harold Persaud told Mr Booker: “You facilitated the crime by allowing the conspirators to utilise your company accounts. This type of conspiracy only succeeds when there is a conduit to allow the laundering of the money.
“I do not accept that you had a limited function under direction. Your part was very proximate to the conspiracy.”
Investigating officer Tim Day said Trading Standards have now applied to the Crown Court for an order under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover the laundered money through a confiscation order.
Martin Phillips, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “Our chief concern now is that an elderly couple are devastated by the loss of their life’s savings – we will do our utmost to recover all we can of the money defrauded from them.”