BUS FIRM STAFF ‘WEREN’T PAID CASH’

Fraud trial hears boss’s de­nial:

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Eryl Crump

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

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