BUS FIRM STAFF ‘WEREN’T PAID CASH’
Fraud trial hears boss’s denial:
THE owner of a Gwynedd bus company told police that employees were paid through a bank account and no cash payments were made, a court has heard.
Eric Wyn Jones, of Penygroes-based Express Motors, was quizzed by officers several times after being initially arrested in July 2014.
The 77-year-old, of Gerallt, Bontnewydd, and his three sons, Ian, 53, of Carmel Road, Penygroes, Kevin, 54, of Llwyn Beuno, Bontnewydd, and Keith, 51, of Caer Berllan, Llanddaniel, are said to have put more than half a million pounds of cash through their own bank accounts without paying tax.
The four men are also alleged to have claimed tens of thousands of pounds for bus pass journeys which were never made from Gwynedd Council and are standing trial at Caernarfon Crown Court. The jury were read edited interviews with Eric Jones and police.
Asked by an officer if cash payments were made at Express Motors, Eric Jones replied: “No, why would we” and said everyone, including himself, was paid weekly by bank transfer
Eric Jones said the payments were organised by the company accountant after receiving details from the company. He explained this was cheaper than employing their own wages clerk.
He added any overtime payments were also made through the bank account.
During the trial, a number of former employees said they would be paid overtime and bonuses in cash.
An investigation by North Wales Police, after a complaint from the council, found that, between June 2012 and July 2014, 32 concessionary fare cards were fraudulently swiped 88,000 times.
One of the cards allegedly misused was Eric Jones’ own card.
In a two-month period at the end of 2013, the card was used 3,000 times.
At interview, he told officers the card was kept in his wallet which he had mislaid for a time.
He had not reported it missing and had not sought a replacement. The wallet was later found and he had tried to use the bus pass and found it was invalid.
Eric Jones claimed the council had stopped it but was told by officers this was not the case.
At one interview, he told officers he had tried to use it on a bus in Llandudno but at a subsequent interview said he used it on a service from Penygroes.
Asked to explain the discrepancy in his account, he said the incident had happened more than a year previously and he couldn’t remember.
He insisted during the interviews he had never instructed drivers to swipe the concessionary passes excessively.
Eric Jones claimed the drivers who had made complaints were “disgruntled” with the company.
The jury previously heard that high-end designer items including perfumes, shoes and clothes – as well as cash – were found at the home of a mechanic at Express Motors.
Police searched the home of Ian Wyn Jones in Penygroes in July 2014 while investigating the complaint by Gwynedd council that the concessionary pass scheme was being abused by the company.
Ian Wyn Jones’s declared income to the tax authorities for each year between 2010 and 2014 was about £8,800.
At the end of the second week of the trial, prosecutor Matthew Dunford read out a series of agreed facts to the jury. He said Ian Jones declared his income in the tax year 2013/14 as £8,840 and he paid no income tax that year.
He claimed Working Tax Credits of about £3,600 and his wife claimed Child Tax Credits of £8,700, which were paid into their joint bank account. Similar sums were claimed in the previous three years, the jury heard.
Mr Dunford said the designer items, from shops such as Selfridges and Harvey Nicols, were valued at about £15,000.
He added £1,260 in cash was also found at the house, and the day after the search, Ian Jones handed in £30,500 in cash to Caernarfon Police Station.
The jury also heard Ian Jones had purchased three properties in the Penygroes area for about £70,000 each.
Mortgages of about £40,000 were obtained but the balance was paid in cash.
Kevin Jones declared his income during the same four year period as about £7,280 while Keith Jones said his income was around £8,840. Kevin Jones paid tax, £160 in all, only in the 2010/11 tax year. The other man paid no more than £471 in tax.
Their father, Eric Jones, declared his share of the profits made by Express Motors in 2011/12 and 2012/13 as £64,675 and £62,905 and claimed pension payments of about £12,000.
He paid about £19,000 in tax in each of those years. Mr Dunford said he failed to file a tax return in 2013/14.
During police searches of Eric Jones and Kevin Jones’ houses, cash sums were found, added Mr Dunford.
He said £1,231 was found in Eric Jones’ home and £1,865 in Kevin Jones’ house.
The trial continues
● Express Motors owner Eric Wyn Jones, main, and his three sons Ian (below), Kevin and Keith deny conspiracy to commit fraud