Runcorn chauffeur company, PCS Chauffeurs who were responsible for millions of miles of car clocking offences has been found guilty of fraud and fined £250,000
The sentence of PCS Events Limited followed a three-year investigation by Halton and Warrington Borough Councils trading standards departments – the biggest probe of its kind carried out by the teams.
It found that more than 100 vehicles had been clocked, with evidence of clocking dating from 2008 to 2014. The minimum amount of clocking which is believed to have taken place is 7.5 million miles.
Runcorn-based PCS Chauffeurs transported high-profile clients including first and business class paasengers for Emirates airline, Wayne Rooney and the X Factor was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay £48,906.47 costs, at Liverpool Crown Court.
PCS Events entered a plea of not guilty and did not send representation to the trial. It was scheduled to last for two weeks, but the jury reached the decision after only nine minutes that the company was guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
The investigation saw several senior staff from the company sentenced for conspiracy to commit fraud earlier this year. In April, owner John Murphy, 67, Conwy, was given three years in prison, with Paul Arslanian, 38, Conwy (two years and three months); Christopher Graham Lunt, 39, Long Lane, Chester (20 months); and Trevor Gareth Jones, 58, Colwyn Bay (15 months) also imprisoned. Simon Richard Williams, 49, of Fluin Lane, Frodsham who carried out MOT testing of clocked vehicles, producing documents which showed incorrect mileage, was handed an 18 month prison sentence.
Cllr Dave Cargill, portfolio holder for Trading Standards at Halton Borough Council, said: “Once again Trading Standards are at the forefront of tackling fraudsters and rogue traders; protecting consumers from being ripped-off and making sure rogues don’t get away with unfair competitive advantages. I commend the teams on their hard work and dedication to secure this successful prosecution.”
Warrington Borough Council’s executive board member for public protection, Cllr Judith Guthrie, said: “This is a major success in our fight against fraud. The successful prosecution of first the individuals and, now, the company in this case is the result of years of hard work by trading standards, supported by Halton Borough Council’s Legal Team.
“This was an extremely complex investigation, with officers working diligently to uncover the fraudulent activity taking place and ensure those responsible were brought to justice.”
The company behind PCS Chauffeurs, PCS Events Ltd operated a widespread system of clocking the cars in their possession. The company sought to profit from the offence through selling vehicles which had previously been on lease hire for chauffeuring purposes. Subsequent sale prices of vehicles sold by the company were inflated, based upon the incorrect mileage reading.
Halton and Warrington trading standards began investigating in 2013 after receiving information of alleged fraudulent behaviour and consumer protection regulatory offences, relating to the turning back of mileages on vehicles obtained by the company.
Judge Cummings specifically praised the lead investigator for the enormous amount of painstaking work that went into the investigation and the way it was presented at trial that made it very clear for the court and the jury to understand.
A huge amount of evidence was gathered – including the cross referencing of fuel records for vehicles, examining finance and warranty work records and recording the accounts of people who had purchased ‘clocked’ vehicles supplied by PCS Events Ltd.