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Jail for director who fiddled the accounts

A director who fraudulently claimed about £140,000 through false invoicing and a range of other scams has been jailed.

Michelle Hoffman (42) began to panic when the crash repair centre she ran in Chapel Lane, Werrington, Peterborough, started losing money.

A suspect repair on a Fiat Punto, in June 2001, had lead to insurance giant Zurich Insurance withdrawing their trade – which amounted to 60 per cent of Autocrash Repair Centre's business, Peterborough Crown Court heard.

That, along with mounting VAT bills, forced the company to go into liquidation.

The land on which the company stood was sold for £410,000 for houses to be built. But Hoffman held back £70,000 paying £46,000 to a fictional money lender – in her father's name.

She later paid the full amount to her husband Charles (56) in payment for two years' unpaid wages.

That was despite a host of creditors being owed hundreds of thousands of pounds, including cash for a race-horse.

She also fiddled the billing on 26 damaged cars to the tune of £70,000 through inflated bills, advanced billing, and falsifying engineer stamps.

Bankrupt Michelle Hoffman, who now lives in South Wales, was sentenced to three 10-month and one eight-month terms of imprisonment, all of which will run concurrently. She had pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud.

She was also banned from becoming a company director for four years.

Charles Hoffman, who works in Rugby, was given a 200-hour community punishment order and ordered to pay £200 towards prosecution costs. He had admitted aiding and abetting.

At an earlier civil proceeding prior to his arrest, Hoffman had paid back £65,000 of the £70,000 transferred to his account, to the company's creditors.

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