Judge tells Vance: ‘Pay £2.3m or go to prison’

BUSI­NESS­MAN WANTED ON FRAUD CHARGES SET TO LOSE AS­SETS – IN­CLUD­ING HOMES AND YACHT

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By PAUL BRITTON paul.britton@men-news.co.uk @PaulBrit­tonMEN

KITCHEN trader Vance Miller has been or­dered to pay more than £2.3m within three months or risk eight years in jail.

A judge ruled Miller, 52, has ‘a crim­i­nal life­style’ and has ben­e­fited from his ‘crim­i­nal con­duct’ to the tune of £2,357,761.

Miller, who was be­hind kitchen firms trad­ing mainly in Old­ham and Rochdale, is be­lieved to be in Java, Indonesia, while wanted on fraud charges. In­ves­ti­ga­tors are now poised to strip his as­sets, in­clud­ing his prop­erty port­fo­lio and per­son­alised num­ber plates.

Judge Michael Leem­ing QC made a con­fis­ca­tion order un­der the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act in Miller’s ab­sence at Manch­ester Crown Court. A yacht he owned called ‘Cranachan,’ moored near Aber­soch in Wales, has al­ready been sold to re­alise the sum, the court heard.

Miller also stands to lose a beach hut in Pwll­heli val­ued at £100,000, a ren­o­vated farm in his name in Rish­worth, West York­shire, be­lieved to be worth £195,000, var­i­ous other prop­er­ties and valu­able ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion plates – in­clud­ing one read­ing V4 NCE which has been val­ued at £20,000.

The Pro­ceeds of Crime Act is leg­is­la­tion used to force crim­i­nals to pay back their ill-got­ten gains.

As in Miller’s case, the act al­lows for con­fis­ca­tion hear­ings to pro­ceed against peo­ple who have ab­sconded af­ter be­ing sum­monsed to ap­pear on charges.

Miller was sum­monsed to ap­pear be­fore mag­is­trates in York in De­cem­ber 2013 ac­cused of a se­ries of of­fences in­clud­ing con­spir­acy to de­fraud and fraud­u­lent trad­ing – re­lat­ing to al­le­ga­tions that poor qual­ity kitchens and fit­tings were passed off as lux­ury buys.

He failed to at­tend and Judge Leem­ing QC said he has re­mained an ‘ab­scon­der’ ever since. A war­rant for his ar­rest is­sued when he failed to at­tend court in 2013 re­mains in force. Miller also failed to at­tend the two-day POCA hear­ing in Manch­ester. The court heard Miller traded out of Maple Mill in Old­ham, which burnt down in a fire in De­cem­ber last year. A war­rant ex­e­cuted on the mill be­fore the fire net­ted £14,000 in cash, and while the mill is now worth­less be­cause the land is classed as con­tam­i­nated, scrap steel taken from the build­ing’s shell fetched over £150,000 at auc­tion.

Prose­cu­tors moved to seize Miller’s as­sets af­ter a num­ber of peo­ple said to have worked for him were jailed last year.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said that so far, 117 peo­ple who lodged com­plaints about kitchens stand to share £223,703 in com­pen­sa­tion.

Judge Leem­ing QC said: “The de­fen­dant does have, in my judge­ment, a crim­i­nal life­style.

“I am sat­is­fied that the ben­e­fit fig­ure for Mr Miller from his crim­i­nal con­duct is £2,357,761.” Lord Toby Har­ris, chair, Na­tional Trad­ing Stan­dards, said: “Un­for­tu­nately, some­times it can be hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a le­git­i­mate and a crim­i­nal busi­ness – par­tic­u­larly if they take steps to con­ceal their true na­ture. How­ever, if you are in any doubt I would urge you to help us clamp down on this crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity by call­ing the Cit­i­zens Ad­vice con­sumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06”.

Kitchen trader Vance Miller is wanted on fraud charges

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