Illegal scrap operator ordered to pay £190,000

The Environment Agency has successfully invoked the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in prosecuting a scrapyard operator who netted almost £360,000 from illegal activities.

A waste operator has been ordered to pay almost £190,000 or face a year in jail after admitting to charges of running an unlicensed waste operation and money laundering.

It is the first time the Environment Agency has prosecuted a waste operator for money laundering and sought to recover funds through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The landmark case concluded with sentencing at Swansea crown court on 23 December 2008.

Daniel Leigh Power of Penllergaer, near Swansea, pleaded guilty at a hearing on 11 August 2008 to converting scrap vehicles and metal to the value of £13,186 while knowing or suspecting them to be the proceeds of offences. The offences, carried out between January and March of 2007, were contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 and section 327(1)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

He also pleaded guilty to keeping and treating controlled waste without a waste management licence, contrary to sections 33(1)(b) and 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act.

Power’s accomplice, Gareth Leigh Davies of Morriston, Swansea, admitted to two offences for assisting, but was conditionally discharged.

The pair came under suspicion in September 2006, when Agency officers saw a lorry carrying scrap vehicles to Power’s farm. During surveillance of the site in January 2007 officers witnessed further deliveries and fuel being drained from vehicles and burnt.

Evidence of catalytic converters and other parts being removed from cars was also gathered. In March 2007, the Agency’s specialist crime team and South Wales Police visited the site, where the defendants were arrested and additional evidence gathered. They were re-arrested in March 2008 and initially appeared in court in April.

The court heard Power had made almost £360,000 from illegal activities at his farm in Penllergaer. He was ordered to pay almost £190,000, representing the contents of his bank account and the estimated value of saleable assets including the farm and a four-by-four vehicle. He was also ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid community service.

The Agency has been seeking to invoke the Proceeds of Crime Act as a means of confiscating offenders’ profits (ENDS Report 403, p 18 ).

Speaking after the hearing, the Agency’s south-west Wales area manager Graham Hillier said: "Power knew he was profiting from his illegal waste activities and his sentence sends a clear warning to others. Anyone who chooses to operate outside the law will now not only face prosecution and a criminal conviction, they now have to understand we have the power to take away any financial gain they may have made from their crimes."

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