A York conman has discovered that crime does not pay after he was hit with a £1 million bill – thanks to the dogged work of a specialist police team.

Paul Blanchard, 73, of St Oswald’s Court, Fulford, was involved in a multi-million pound fraud spanning the UK, Spain, Gibraltar and Tenerife.

In February 2008 he was sentenced to six and a half years’ imprisonment for his part in a ‘bold and audacious fraud’ to steal £4.3m from a bank in Dublin and transfer the cash to Spain.

The courts also hit him with a confiscation order to recover the money from his crimes. And the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team (RART) set out to find it.

Complex investigation

The team followed the money. Photograph:pxhere

The team carried out a complex and lengthy financial investigation into Blanchard’s affairs.

Thanks to their tenacious probe into his assets they were able to bring Blanchard back to Teesside Crown Court on Monday (September 17).

There he was made subject to a Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 confiscation order in the sum of £1,026,887.45.

This will be be settled from the sale of properties in York and Essex, together with a high-value personalised registration number.

The court ordered that nearly £800,000 of the confiscated money be paid in compensation to Blanchard’s victims.

If Blanchard fails to pay up within three months, he will go back to prison for a further five years. But serving that sentence will not extinguish the confiscation order.

Dogged pursuit

The sale of this property, Oakland House in Essex, will go towards the confiscation order
Head of the North East RART Ramona Senior said she was delighted with the conclusion of this long-running case.

  • My staff have doggedly pursued Blanchard over the years it has taken to get to this stage and demonstrates both that the interests of victims of crime are given the highest priority and that delays only serve to put off the inevitable.

    If Blanchard fails to realise the assets subject of this order, we will appoint enforcement receivers and sell them irrespective of cooperation on his part.

In 2008 Blanchard was found guilty of:

  • conspiracy to obtain a money transfer by deception (value £4.3 million)
  • possessing criminal property (value £12,500)
  • obtaining a money transfer by deception (value £30,000)
  • and conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property (value £375,000).

Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, head of North Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “This is a fantastic result and is testament to the support of victims in the case and the collaborative work of law enforcement.”

He added:

  • This judgement is the result of many years of hard work and demonstrates that you simply cannot hide your assets and we will hold you to account.

    I thank the officers of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Fraud Investigation Team who secured the original conviction, as well as the support provided by the Regional Asset Recovery Team in achieving the order against Blanchard.