Martin Wright, a bankrupt, has been jailed after pleading guilty to two counts of removing money from his accounts to avoid the funds being used to repay a benefits debt. He was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court.
The conviction follows an initial investigation by The Insolvency Service and a full criminal investigation and prosecution by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Mr Wright, 60, incurred a debt to Tendring District Council of 17,864.50, due to overpayment of housing and council tax benefits. The council wrote to Mr Wright requesting he repay this debt. Mr Wright could easily afford to do this, since in August 2009 he sold a property for 560,000 and received 327,376.55 proceeds from the sale.
However, he did not repay the debt but instead began removing money from his accounts. In the three weeks after he sold the property he withdrew 111,637.57, almost all of this amount in cash.
Due to his continued refusal to pay the debt, Mr Wright was made bankrupt by order of the court on 15 March 2010. By this date the remainder of the proceeds of sale, a total of 215,738.98, had been removed from his accounts but no payments had been made to the council.
Mr Wright was sentenced to six months immediate imprisonment on both counts, to run concurrently.
Deputy Chief Investigation Officer Ian West from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said: The Department for Business takes very seriously those cases where debtors dishonestly dispose of assets and go bankrupt to avoid paying their creditors.
Be in no doubt that we will investigate and prosecute these crimes which, as can be seen from this case attract significant custodial sentences in the courts.