Jailed Bishop Middleham businessman ordered to repay £93k

Teesside Combined Court Centre, Middlesbrough.

Teesside Combined Court Centre, Middlesbrough.

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy News Editor

A BUSINESSMAN jailed for fraud has been given six months to pay £93,443 or else face up to two years jail if he defaults.

A judge said Geoff Auston, from Bishop Middleham, near Ferryhill, County Durham, had benefitted by £746,374 from his crime.

Judge Howard Crowson, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, also agreed he had assets worth £93,443 which he ordered be realised under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

These included a share in the equity of homes in Bishop Middleham and in Spennymoor, a £10,000 sports car, two Rolex watches worth £7,650 and more than £8,000 cash in a bank account.

Auston previously admitted fraudulent trading, two counts of making a false representation and being concerned in the management and formation of a company while he was a disqualified director. He was given two years jail and is currently in Kirklevington Prison, near Yarm.

The 60-year-old, who was present for the court hearing, was involved with a colliery business in Derbyshire when £100,000 disappeared from a miners’ bank account. Profits were also fraudulently siphoned off from the business.

Judge Crowson said: “It is in his interests to ensure that he does his very best to ensure these assets are realised.”

Bob Bussey, an investigator with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “This is a satisfactory result and a reminder to the criminal fraternity that under the powers afforded by the Proceeds of Crime Act we will seek to recover the benefits of any criminal conduct.”

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