15:32 PM, 8th May 2012, About 12 years ago
Fraud investigators uncovered a ‘missing’ £85,000 from a failed letting agent that ran into financial problems after the supervising franchise closed.
Peter Swatton, 55, admitted fraudulent trading at Mold Crown Court, where he was jailed for 36 weeks suspended for two years, ordered to spend 300 hours on community work and to pay £600 costs.
The court was told that Swatton ran Abacus Accommodation Agency, Wrexham, North Wales, from January 2007 until January 2009.
Swatton opted to carry on with the business when the franchise closed, he carried on trading even though the business was not viable.
Eventually the business failed and a receiver was called in who uncovered almost £85,000 misappropriated from landlord funds.
Swatton was made bankrupt, repaying £55,000 to creditors.
Judge Niclas Parry said: “The aggravating feature is you acted in breach of the trust of people who owned properties and entrusted those properties to you.
“You buried your head in the sand hoping, rather than expecting, an upward turn in fortune.
“You worked hard to try and salvage the situation, you have not benefited personally and you worked in other employment to make the payments you knew were due.”
In defence, the court heard that Swatton had taken an extra job to inject cash in to the letting agency.
Meanwhile, around 70 landlords owed £350,000 by letting agent Joseph Newman, of St Dunstan’s Street, Canterbury, Kent, have probably lost every penny.
Liquidators say the business owes a total of £413,000 – including deposits handed over by 250 tenants.
The business has assets of just £8,000 and liquidators are predicting their inquiries could take up to two years to complete.