An elderly Buckinghamshire couple were fleeced by cowboy roofers of around £300,000 for work that was valued at £577 in 2013. Although, they thought their luck had changed when Trading Standards officers turned up to say they had recovered the money, only to ask for £600,000 in ‘up front fees’ to get the money back. Yet it turned out these officers were part of the same cowboy roofers company.
It didn’t take long for the Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards who were working alongside the Thames Valley police, to uncover a trail that linked £435,000 of the Amersham couple’s payment to a company called Construction Connected.
Gary Andrew Booker, 55, sole company director was found guilty of seventeen counts of money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act at Alyesbury Crown Court on Friday July 8, as a result he was sentenced to three and a half years in jail.
Mr Booker, Queen Avenue, Surrey allowed £435,000 to be paid into his business account. This money was very quickly paid out in cash amounts.
The court later heard Mr Booker told the investigating officers that he had been asked by a former business partner, who supplied lorries for block paving to ‘stick money through your account’ for a big tarmac job.
No recipes were kept for the transactions and all of them were done in cash. Mr Booker said the transaction didn’t give him any cause for concern and he had treated them like a business transaction. Mr Booker denied the fact that he had ‘turned a blind eye’ to them.
Sentencing recorder Harold Persaud told Mr Booker: “You facilitated the conspiracy 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 promote to the conspiracy”.
Tim Day, the investigation officer said Trading Standards had 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 Country Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “Investigating money laundering cases is a painstaking task and my thanks go to Trading Standards and Police officers for their determination. Our chief concern now is an elderly couple devastated by the loss of their life’s savings and we will do out upmost to recover all we can of the money defrauded from them and laundered by Mr Booker”.