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Warning sounded after £2.6M payment diversion fraud

Police have urged construction clients to be wary after two men were jailed for their roles in a £2.6M payment diversion fraud linked to the building of a new runway on Guernsey.

John Woodhatch, 58, from Epping in Essex, was sentenced to five years in prison, and Adrian Taylor, 44, from Swanley in Kent, to six years in prison after both pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering.

City of London Police said the co-conspirators contacted the Guernsey Treasury in June 2012.

Claiming to be from Lagan Construction, which is carrying out a £50M airport project on the island, they said they wanted to change the bank account into which the Treasury was making its monthly payments to the firm.

When a payment of £2.6M was transferred into the new RBS account, Woodhatch instructed the bank to move the funds to accounts in Dubai and Turkey.

A detailed review of the accounts by police found that £52,000 of the stolen funds had been transferred to Taylor.

Detective inspector Rob Stirling, who led the investigation for the City of London Police, said: “Woodhatch and Taylor thought they were too smart to be caught and would be left free to spend the £2.6M stolen from the States of Guernsey.

“Unfortunately for them the City of London Police specialises in investigating cases of financial fraud and bringing those responsible to justice.

“Woodhatch and Taylor’s scam should also serve as a warning to other public and private sector bodies that could easily be targeted by fraudsters in the same way.” 

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