Claus who ran Chequered Flag Car Sales in Hipperholme was sentenced to three years in prison in August 2012 for conspiring to defraud the customers and money laundering offences.
This triggered a Proceeds of Crime investigation and Claus was subject to a Crown Court Restraint Order that prohibited him disposing of or dealing with any of his assets pending a confiscation hearing.
The purpose of the hearing will be to consider how much money he gained from his criminal conduct and how much he would have to pay back. His assets included a significant number of vintage and specialist cars and motorcycles.
Following a hearing yesterday at Leeds Crown Court was found guilty of three breaches of the restraint order by dishonestly attempting to frustrate the investigation by hiding and dissipating his substantial assets by placing them out of the jurisdiction of the court.
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His Honour Judge Kearl QC in sentencing Claus said: “These were deliberate, determined and repeated attempts to hide your assets. I have made Orders and expect them to be carried out.”
The judge stressed that if any further acts of contempt are brought before him Claus could expect much longer sentences.
The case was brought by City of York Council on behalf of the National Trading Standards Board funded Regional Scambuster Team.
Colin Rumford, Head of Public Protection at City of York Council said: “The scale of Mr Claus’ attempts to hide his assets was quite staggering. Scambuster officers working with the NE Regional Asset Recovery team, the West Yorkshire Todmorden based Upper Valley Local Policing Team, and other police forces seized over 100 hidden cars and motor cycles from locations as far afield as Northampton, Wales and Heysham dock near Liverpool.”
Judge Kearl also issued an Order authorising the sale of cars, motorcycles and other items that had been seized by officers.
Councillor Linsay Cunningham-Cross, Cabinet Member for Crime and Community Safety for City of York Council, said: “This is an excellent example of officers using their powers robustly and working in partnership with other agencies to reinforce the message crime simply does not pay. Rogue traders may once have considered the punishment of the courts as an inconvenience but now they can expect to lose the assets they’ve acquired through their criminality.”
Chairman of the National Trading Standards Board, Lord Toby Harris said “Yesterday’s court case brought by Trading Standards Scambusters sends a strong clear message to fraudsters that crime does not pay. Since bringing the criminal car dealers of Chequered Flag Car Sales to justice a year ago trading standards officers have continued to work tirelessly to detect and seize considerable assets that Kirk Claus and six co- defendants accumulated with the money they made fraudulently.
“The huge seizure of over 100 vehicles, most of which belonged to Claus, including many luxury models, are now due to be sold at Auction for an estimated value of over £1 million will hit him where it hurts. Investigations are ongoing under the Proceeds of Crime Act to identify and seize any remaining assets.”