Leeds & West Yorkshire

Company boss Jonathan France siphoned cash to buy house and cars

Leeds Crown Court. Image copyright PA
Image caption Three men were jailed at Leeds Crown Court for their parts in the deception

A fraudster who ignored laws banning him from being a company director siphoned more than £6m from his business to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Jonathan France's deception enabled him to buy three Aston Martins, two Ferraris, a Rolls Royce and a McLaren.

He carried on running companies despite being banned over his role in the mismanagement of a scrap metal business which went into insolvency.

France, 46, from Wakefield, was jailed at Leeds Crown Court for 10 years.

Two other men, Jody Firth, 37, and Graham Schofield, 53, were also jailed for their part in the deception.

Read more stories from across Yorkshire

The government's Insolvency Service said France was disqualified from being a director of limited companies for 14 years in 2004 for his role in the mismanagement of Eric France and Sons (Metals) Limited which went into insolvency.

He was then declared bankrupt in 2008 as he was unable to pay more than £7m owed after his sole-trader businesses Embassy Racing and EFS Group collapsed.

Being bankrupt and disqualified should have limited his ability to directly or indirectly run a company but France ignored this.

Lied to trustees

He went on to divert millions of pounds from other company accounts to business and personal accounts so he could buy a house, luxury items and a fleet of cars.

The Insolvency Service said months before France was made bankrupt on the grounds he had no money to pay his debts, he transferred £180,000 of cash and assets out of his personal estate to avoid paying his creditors.

This went to Graham Schofield and Jody Firth, friends he had made through motor racing.

He then continued running companies and together with Schofield and Firth, lied to the trustees about the possessions.

France, of The Paddock, Flockton, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraudulently transferring property, three counts of acting as a director while bankrupt, as well as one count each of failing to disclose property to the Official Receiver or Trustee, perjury, fraudulent trading, false accounting and money laundering.

Firth, of Oakenshaw Lane, Wakefield, admitted money laundering and helping France run a company despite being bankrupt. He was jailed for five years, four months.

Schofield, of Pauls Road, Mirfield, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites