Brighton couple jailed for fraud, theft and money laundering

Posted On 03 Mar 2013 at 10:40 pm

A married couple from Brighton have been jailed for their part in a series of financial crimes valued at about £4 million.

Clifford Allen Wake, 52, and his wife Julia Theresa Wake, 44, both of Whitethorn Drive in Westdene, were convicted and sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Friday (1 March).

Clifford Wake was jailed for seven years and Julia Wake for two and a half years.

He was found guilty of

  • two counts of fraudulent trading
  • four counts of theft
  • five counts of money laundering
  • four counts of obtaining property by deception or dishonestly
  • one count of failing to disclose property while bankrupt

He was found not guilty of one offence of money laundering.

She was found guilty of

  • one count of failing to disclose property while bankrupt
  • four count of obtaining services by deception or dishonestly
  • three counts of money laundering

She was found not guilty of two offences of money laundering.

They were prosecuted after an investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit.

A week ago (Friday 22 February) an associate of Clifford Wake was also sent to prison after a separate trial at Lewes Crown Court.

Patrick Lee, 60, of Mill Street in Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire, was jailed for three and a half years for ten counts of money laundering.

Some of his crimes were linked to offences committed by Clifford and Julia Wake.

William Mousley, for the Crown Prosecution Service, told the court that from 2003 to early 2011 the Wakes both lived off the proceeds of crime to a greater or lesser extent.

They enjoyed a comfortable and sometimes extravagant lifestyle with cars, boats, property and travel.

This had been funded not from honest hard work but by criminal money which they acquired in various different ways.

For some of that time they claimed benefits, having reported that they were living off a modest or meagre income.

Mr Mousley said that that may well have been the extent of their legitimate income but the true picture was very different.

Clifford Wake was the prime mover in providing this criminal lifestyle.

And his wife seemed happy to enjoy the fruits of his dishonest labour while also playing her part in misleading the authorities and a number of money-lending institutions.

The money-making took different forms at different times but the repeated features were dishonesty and concealment of their assets and income.

Clifford Wake siphoned off money due to the creditors of his business ventures, using it to try to fund other business projects.

He sold property belonging to others, obtained various loans dishonestly and dealt in stolen goods and property.

He generally lived a life which was so far above his legitimate means that he had to be financing it with the proceeds of crime whether by himself or by others.

He tried to conceal his assets and converted money into property or income which he could then spend.

Julia Wake applied for mortgages by lying about her income and helped her husband in acquiring, using and concealing money, property and other things.

Both were money-launderers, who by their actions disguised and dealt in the proceeds of crime.

When they were both separately made bankrupt, they both lied to the authorities about their true financial position.

Mr Mousley said that this was undoubtedly with the intention of defeating the claims of those owed money.

Lee also had apparently limited means and no obvious source of legitimate income that would support substantial movements of money.

Yet an analysis of his accounts showed that over the eight years looked at in court, 2003 to 2011, about £4 million passed through his accounts.

A number of those transactions were identified as passing through the accounts of Lee and the Wakes or accounts operated by them.

The court found that the funds being transferred between accounts represented criminal property.

Detective Inspector Simon Harsley, of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit Criminal Finances Team, said: “We will also be preparing applications to the courts later this year under the Proceeds of Crime Act for all three to be stripped of financial profits acquired through of their criminality, which has clearly been carried out on a systematic and organised basis over a period of some years.

“If those applications are successful the proceeds can be ploughed back into legitimate society via law enforcement and local community projects.

“This type of complex criminal behaviour is very difficult to unravel and it is a tribute to our hard-working team, Detective Constable Alison Diamond and financial investigators Eamonn O’Dwyer, and Dave Chave, that the courts have been satisfied beyond doubt that these are lifestyle organised criminals intent on taking whatever criminal advantage they can to make money.

“People like this need to know that we can still come after them, and that we can also attack their profits.”

The South East Regional Organised Crime Unit comprises officers and staff from Sussex Police and the Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley forces.

It works with the UK Border Agency, Revenue and Customs and the Serious Organised Crime Agency to combat cross-border organised crime.

Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney chairs the regional management board responsible for the unit which is based in Sussex.


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