FENLAND: Nortorious conman ran furniture scam while on day release from open prison

By ELAINE KING NORTORIOUS Fenland conman Nicholas Wattiez – who has admitted running a business scam from his prison cell which netted him tens of thousands of pounds– is awaiting a hefty jail sentence. The conman – who used to run London Refurbishing Co

By ELAINE KING

NORTORIOUS Fenland conman Nicholas Wattiez - who has admitted running a business scam from his prison cell which netted him tens of thousands of pounds- is awaiting a hefty jail sentence.

The conman - who used to run London Refurbishing Company in March and lived at Doddington Hall and Eldernel House in Coates - has a long history of fraudulent dealing.

Wattiez was already serving an eight-year sentence for a £2 million fraud when he hatched a new plan to defraud customers.


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While at the open prison HMP Latchmere, between summer 2006 and October 2007, he used his five day a week release to set up fraudulent furniture firms.

He convinced prison staff that he was working as a log salesman, but was travelling up and down the country to generate business, buying and selling second hand furniture.

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DC Graeme Ord, the police officer in the case said Wattiez supplied false documents to secure his day release between 7am and 8pm.

He set up a company called Rainbow Wholesale, got work on building sites in central London, and drove a road sweeper.

"He picked up reclaimed building materials and started to sell them to old acquaintances, and then started back in the hotel second hand furniture business using the same company name," said DC Ord.

In the summer of 2007, Wattiez formed Westminster Wholesale Ltd. He used two associates to act as directors, but ran the company himself.

Appearing at Huntingdon Crown Court, Wattiez admitted fraudulent trading, fraud by false representation and an offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act.

He was jailed for four years in 1994, after admitting that he defrauded hoteliers and restaurateurs and running businesses while bankrupt. He wooed licensees with cut price furniture for cash up front, but rarely delivered.

After being released in 1996, Wattiez set up a business to supply second hand furniture to hotels, guest houses and caterers, but entered into contracts he could not guarantee, and double booked orders. He was already disqualified from acting as a company director and as a bankrupt was banned from obtaining credit - but used another person to act as the legitimate front of the business and sign blank cheques, says the Serious Fraud Office.

He resumed business at his former business premises at Willow Hall Farm, Thorney, and operated as Allied Wholesale. In1998 he walked out of Allied Wholesale leaving the business with millions of pounds worth of debts, and immediately set up Admiral Contracts, replicating the business, says the SFO.

The SFO started to investigate in August 1998, prompted by a referral from the police, and was charged in December 1999. His trial started in September 2001 at Birmingham Crown Court. He skipped bail, and was jailed for eight years in his absence. He was caught the following year and began his sentence.

*Wattiez's 65-year-old brother Charles was cleared of any illegal activity in regard to a bank account after a trial.

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