Crooked Wakefield boss funded fleet of Aston Martins, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces during £6million swindle

editorial image

A FRAUDSTER was able to fund a six million pound life of luxury by ignoring laws banning him from being a company director after he was made bankrupt.

Jonathan France’s deception enabled him to fund a fleet of Aston Martins, Ferraris, a Rolls-Royce and a McLaren.

The former Wakefield scrap metal dealer was also able to buy a five-bedroom house in Huddersfield, spend almost £200,000 on high-end furniture and splash out £70,000 on fine wines.

France, 46, was joined in his deception by two of his motor racing pals who helped him ignore disqualification restrictions and continued to run companies, while diverting millions of pounds from them.

France, Jody Firth, 37, and Graham Schofield, 53, were jailed for a total of 18 years at Leeds Crown Court.

France was first disqualified from being a director of limited companies for 14 years in 2004 for his role in the mismanagement of Eric France and Son (Metals) Limited which went into insolvency.

He was then declared bankrupt in November 2008 as he was unable to pay more than £7m owed after the collapse of his sole-trader businesses Embassy Racing and EFS Group.

Being bankrupt and disqualified should have limited his ability to directly or indirectly run a company.

But France ignored the restrictions and continued to run companies.

With the help of Schofield, he misled the trustees managing his affairs, claiming he had no assets to pay back his debts.

Just under £7m in assets has since been recovered. Months before he was made bankrupt in 2008 on the grounds that he had no money to pay his debts, France deliberately transferred close to £180,000 worth of money and assets out of his personal estate to avoid paying his creditors.

The money and assets went to Schofield and Firth, friends he had made through motor-racing. Assets moved included two classic cars worth £27,000 to Schofield and Firth.

France then began a sustained campaign to continue running companies despite having restrictions placed on him. France’s deception included falsifying company cheques, invoices and other paperwork. He repeatedly failed to properly disclose his property to the trustees when questioned before a county court 2012.

Deputy Chief Investigation Officer, John Fitzsimmons, of the Insolvency Service, said: “Jonathan France is a fraudster and lied in order to cover up his true activities and fund his opulent lifestyle.

France, of The Paddocks, Flockton, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraudulently transferring property, three counts of acting as a director while bankrupt, as well as one count each for failing to disclose property to the official receiver or trustee, perjury, fraudulent trading, false accounting and money laundering. He was jailed for ten years.

Firth, of Oakenshaw Lane, Huddersfield, pleaded guilty to money laundering and helping France run a company despite being a bankrupt. He was sentenced to five years, four months. Schofield, of St Pauls Road, Mirfield, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was jailed for two and a half years.