Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Disgraced Businessman Told to Repay PS522,000

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Disgraced Businessman Told to Repay PS522,000

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Kennedy Court Reporter

AFINANCIAL director who stole from his firm to fund a lavish lifestyle has been ordered to pay back more than half a million pounds of his ill-gotten gains.

John Forrest pocketed large amounts of money from his recycled food packaging business to pay for holidays, schools fees, hotels and furniture - while the company headed towards administration.

While two fellow directors worked long, hard hours to try to make the business a success, dad-of-two Forrest was siphoning away money for his own benefit.

As well as taking in excess of PS600,000 from the firm, Forrest fraudulently claimed more than PS350,000 in VAT from the taxpayer for the firm, a hearing in May 2015 heard.

As we reported previously, a month after the tax con, Forrest, of Hawthorn Road, Gosforth, even boasted to The Journal that his company had hit a record PS5m in turnover after only two years of trading.

Two years ago, the 48-year-old was jailed for three years and eight months after pleading guilty to theft and fraud charges.

Now his case has been back at Newcastle Crown Court as prosecutors sought to claw back his ill-gotten gains under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court heard he benefited to the tune of PS646,996 and has available assets of PS522,380.80, which is what he must hand over.

Rupert Dodswell, prosecuting, told the court in May 2015 Forrest and his two partners, who were old friends and colleagues, set up the Houghtonle-Spring-based business in 2010 and all three contributed large amounts of investment.

They secured investment from two other firms, which became shareholders in the company, which was initially a success.

The fraud was uncovered after a routine HMRC visit to the firm's premises in January 2013, during which Forrest said errors on a previous VAT claim were the responsibility of staff covering for his regular bookkeeper, who was on maternity leave. But, later in the visit, Forrest admitted fabricating five invoices during 2012 to boost his VAT repayment by PS325,900. …

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