Fraudster jets around the world – owing over £60m
A CONVICTED Jersey fraudster has been living a luxury lifestyle – taking private jets and first-class flights around the world – despite claiming he cannot access any of his accounts to pay back the £65 million he owes UK taxpayers.
In 2002 Gerald Smith, the former chief executive of Jersey-registered ORB, was jailed for eight years by a judge in a London Crown Court after being found guilty of fraudulently obtaining £35 million from a UK IT company. He was subsequently handed a £41 million confiscation order, which has now risen to £65 million because of interest.
Smith has so far paid back £4.8 million, and claims in court documents that he wants to pay off the rest but is unable to do so as his wealth is tied up in ongoing complex legal cases.
However, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, which is trying to force Smith to pay up, has submitted a bundle of documents to Folkestone Magistrates’ Court – which is now dealing with the case – that it says detail Mr Smith’s extensive and costly travel arrangements during recent years.
According to the SFO documents, Smith used private jets to fly from Jersey to 15 different destinations including Ibiza, Barcelona, Mallorca, Malaga and Geneva.
Smith is also alleged to have travelled further afield, taking three one-way British Airways flights to Dubai costing £49,425, £34,752 and £17,200 respectively.
In total, the SFO says he has taken 360 flights in the past five years to destinations including Vancouver, Toronto, Buenos Aires and the Maldives.
He also travelled frequently between Jersey and Gatwick in 2013 – taking 46 flights on the route with British Airways from April until December.
The SFO’s documents, which date up to February of this year, say that Mr Smith last travelled to Jersey in July 2016 on an easyJet flight from Gatwick.
In a letter to Folkestone Magistrates’ Court, Mike Cheek, principal financial investigator for the SFO, states that inquiries into Smith’s travel were launched after staff from KPMG – who are acting as receivers to try to claim back money from assets – travelled to a property in Mallorca and found him already there.
‘The receiver’s staff travelled to Mallorca to inspect properties there and to meet with prospective valuation/sales agents. However, the receivers found, shortly before their arrival, that Smith was already in Mallorca,’ he said.
‘The SFO have made inquiries to Smith’s travel to see how extensive it is. It transpires that Smith has not only travelled to Mallorca on this occasion but has made a number of other journeys over the last five years – a total of 177 outbound have been found.’
Mr Cheek adds that the agency has limited information as to how the alleged travel has been paid for but says that some was funded from company accounts.
He adds: ‘There are nine such occasions where, together with what appears to be payments for luxury hotels, the costs for flight and accommodation are over £10,000.’
Court documents also highlight properties being dealt with by KPMG, which they claim may have been bought with Smith’s criminal profits.
They include flats in a central London mansion block worth £16 million, two villas in Mallorca worth £5 million, a ski lodge in the Canadian Rockies and plots of land at Lake Como in Italy.