Car wash fraudsters cleaned up £1.5m

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A former bank manager and an accountant have escaped immediate jail for their part in a £1.5m car wash fraud scam.

Ex-Yorkshire Bank manager Mark Nelson, 45, and book keeper Stephen Farman, 50, admitted conspiracy to defraud in relation to the running of nine lucrative car washes in Leeds and Bradford.

Leeds Crown Court heard ringleader John Elam, 52, started the six-year conspiracy in 2000 by setting up the car washes and repeatedly changing the company names in a bid to defraud suppliers, the taxman and utility companies of more than £1.5m.

Nelson, of The Lilacs, Guiseley, used to be Elam’s bank manager at Yorkshire Bank.

But he left the bank to become a management consultant for the property developer in 2005 and was involved in lying to creditors.

The court heard Farman, of Hessle, Hull, was involved in collecting cash from the Leeds car washes on North Street; Commercial Road; Stanningley Road; York Road; Wortley Ring Road; Station Road at Crossgates; York Road and Low Road.

Elam’s son Craig Bower, 34, of Waterside Court, Rodley, managed the car washes on his father’s behalf.

Nelson, Farman, and Bower admitted conspiracy to defraud.

Nelson and Farman had previously each served two-year jail sentences for a similar scam at the Medina restaurant John Elam owned in Leeds.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC handed Nelson, Farman, and Bower 12-month jail sentences suspended for 12 months for the car wash fraud. Nelson was ordered to do 175 hours unpaid work; Farman 150 hours and Bower 120 hours. All three were involved in the six-year conspiracy at various stages.

John Elam netted £10m as a result of the conspiracy and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in luxury properties in Leeds, Harrogate and London.

Elam, formerly of York Place, Leeds, was earlier given jail sentences totalling nine years after being convicted of conspiring to defraud, assault and perverting the court of justice.

Detectives uncovered the crimes after undercover officers bugged Elam’s apartment and office in the heart of Leeds’s legal quarter.

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