Saturday, August 9, 2008

MOD Police expose cash scam culprits

MOD Police expose cash scam culprits

A Defence Policy and Business news article
8 Aug 08
The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) Fraud Squad has successfully foiled a huge undercover plot which was robbing the Department of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The swindle, which took place at Devonport Dockyard, resulted in the imprisonment of a company boss, who was found guilty of masterminding the scam. Three other people were also convicted of involvement in skimming more than £340,000 in cash from a contract for the revamp of the Trident Submarine Refit Project.

MDP detectives discovered James McLaughlan, aged 58, from Ayrshire, was using his position as head of a scaffolding company to bribe others into assisting with his scheme and to help cover up the fraud. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the MOD.

The MDP Fraud Squad is also now pursuing him and one of his co-defendants, under the Criminal Justice Act 1988, to reclaim the money that they were paid illegally.

Detective Sergeant Steve Fraser, who successfully steered the case through the courts, said:

"We are committed in our efforts to protect the MOD's assets from corruption and are prepared to follow the trail of evidence wherever it takes us.

"This investigation was very wide-ranging and complex; it was launched in December 2001 and it wasn't until December 2006 that we were able to issue court summonses for eight individuals, having pieced together the full picture of what had gone on.

"McLaughlan had bribed and manipulated a number of people to assist in his scheme and help cover up the financial trail of where the money had ended up.

"It took a lot of hard work to gather all the necessary evidence and over the course of the investigation there was a varied team of officers involved, but their level of dedication was consistent and it all paid off."

During the five year inquiry more than 700 witness statements were recorded and thousands of documents seized and reviewed, resulting in the preparation of more than 17,000 pages of evidence.

The fraud was believed to have begun not long after McLaughlan's company was employed by a contractor on the Trident Submarine Refit Project in early 2001 to supply labour and scaffolding services.

The judge ordered two defendants to be found not guilty and the jury also returned not guilty verdicts on two of the others.

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