Last conspirator in £35m land scam run from Canary Wharf is finally jailed after five years on the run
PUBLISHED: 14:05 21 December 2018 | UPDATED: 18:14 21 December 2018
The fifth man involved in a massive £35 million land banking scam run from Canary Wharf has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years.
James Maynard, who has also been banned this week from being a company director for 15 years, is the last of a gang of five to be sentenced after fleeing the country before the original trial in 2013.
Maynard, who was finally arrested at Gatwick in August, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court on October 26.
The case was led by Tower Hamlets trading standards supported by the National Trading Standards and Met Police.
Four of the gang were arrested and put on trial in 2013 and jailed for a total of almost 27 years—Daniel Webster, Stephen Allen, Steven Percival and Christopher Demetriou.
But Maynard skipped the country and was believed to be in Cyprus.
The gang conspired to defraud investors from a scam company operation in Canary Wharf between January 2005 and August 2010, through companies such as Countrywide Land Holdings and Regional Land.
They duped 400 investors out of £35m into buying plots of land claiming they would shoot up in value once planning permission for development had been secured. The scammers even claimed the land would be used for the 2012 Olympics.
In reality, the plots were worthless, part of the greenbelt or in conservation areas.
Land bought up by Maynard for £30,000 was divided into plots worth less than £400—but sold for £10,000 each.
The case was taken up by Tower Hamlets Trading Standards in 2010 following complaints about the businesses registered to the conspirators.
“We won’t relent in bring criminals to justice, no matter how long it may take,” Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said after Wednesday’s jailing of Maynard.
“This was one of the largest fraud cases brought before the courts by any local authority, following a long investigation by our trading standards team and the police.
“I hope this jail sentence brings some consolation to the victims of such a callous crime.”
The judge in the original 2013 trial said Maynard “made up its wicked heart”. Investors were “contemptible prey to be chewed up and contemptuously spat out”. Many had been ruined or close to ruin.
The sentence finally closes the case against a scam started in 2005 which ran for five years.