Ronald James Preedy, a former bankrupt, was found guilty on 21 September, following a trial at the Old Baily and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment for fraudulently transferring his interest in a property to his children in an attempt to deny this asset to his creditors.
Mr Preedys conviction follows a full criminal investigation and prosecution by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The court heard that Mr Preedy, an optician, was previously convicted of defrauding the NHS on 13 April 2007. On that occasion, he pleaded guilty to 9 counts of obtaining money transfers by deception. In essence, he falsely represented that a Dr Yaqub had signed claim forms for the payment of eye tests carried out by the doctor when he had not done so, thereby obtaining the transfer of money from the NHS Primary Care Trusts. On 28 June 2007 the NHS commenced civil recovery proceedings against Mr Preedy, seeking approximately 136,008.38 for overpayments resulting from the fraudulent claims.
Despite Mr Preedy completing an acknowledgement of service in relation to these NHS claim on 10 July 2007, indicating that he was fully aware that he owed the NHS a substantial amount, on the very next day, Mr & Mrs Preedy transferred their matrimonial home to their three children for no monetary value.
The Official Receiver (OR) estimated that Mr Preedys interest in his matrimonial home was worth approximately 193,000.00 at the time.
Commenting on the sentencing, Deputy Chief Investigating Officer Liam Mannall, of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, said:
Mr Preedys main asset would have been more than sufficient to repay all his debts in full and yet, he decided to take a rather different course of action by cynically putting the property beyond the reach of his creditors whilst continuing to reside there.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills will investigate criminal misconduct by bankrupts irrespective of when the conduct occurred. As illuminated by the sentence handed down to Mr Preedy, the consequences can be severe.
In the course of the trial, Mr Preedy attempted to blame his former criminal defence solicitor, who represented him in the NHS fraud matter. Mr Preedy stated that he only transferred the property on the advice of his solicitor. This assertion was contradicted by Mr Preedys own son at court.
In the current case Mr Preedy also protested his innocence in relation to the NHS fraud conviction by blaming his barrister and a senior judge of the utmost integrity, for pressurising him to plead guilty.
His Honour Judge Marks added:
You are an intelligent man, a professional man. You tried to pull the wool over the eyes of jury against a background where you convinced yourself that you had not committed any offences and that you were a victim of a vicious witch hunt by the NHS.
Mr Preedy was sentenced on the same day to 9 months imprisonment and ordered to pay prosecution costs in the sum of 16,000.00.