Bankrupt optician sees prison for trying to hide assets from creditors
Ronald James Preedy, a former bankrupt, was found guilty on 21 September, following a trial at the Old Baily and sentenced to 9 months’ imprisonment for fraudulently transferring his interest in a property to his children in an attempt to deny this asset to his creditors.
Mr Preedy’s conviction follows a full criminal investigation and prosecution by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The court heard that Mr Preedy, an optician, was previously convicted of defrauding the NHS on 13 April 2007. On that occasion, he pleaded guilty to 9 counts of obtaining money transfers by deception. In essence, he falsely represented that a Dr Yaqub had signed claim forms for the payment of eye tests carried out by the doctor when he had not done so, thereby obtaining the transfer of money from the NHS Primary Care Trusts. On 28 June 2007 the NHS commenced civil recovery proceedings against Mr Preedy, seeking approximately £136,008.38 for overpayments resulting from the fraudulent claims.
Despite Mr Preedy completing an ‘acknowledgement of service’ in relation to these NHS claim on 10 July 2007, indicating that he was fully aware that he owed the NHS a substantial amount, on the very next day, Mr & Mrs Preedy transferred their matrimonial home to their three children for no monetary value.
The Official Receiver (OR) estimated that Mr Preedy’s interest in his matrimonial home was worth approximately £193,000.00 at the time.
Commenting on the sentencing, Deputy Chief Investigating Officer Liam Mannall, of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, said:
Mr Preedy’s main asset would have been more than sufficient to repay all his debts in full and yet, he decided to take a rather different course of action by cynically putting the property beyond the reach of his creditors whilst continuing to reside there.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills will investigate criminal misconduct by bankrupts irrespective of when the conduct occurred. As illuminated by the sentence handed down to Mr Preedy, the consequences can be severe.
In the course of the trial, Mr Preedy attempted to blame his former criminal defence solicitor, who represented him in the NHS fraud matter. Mr Preedy stated that he only transferred the property on the advice of his solicitor. This assertion was contradicted by Mr Preedy’s own son at court.
In the current case Mr Preedy also protested his innocence in relation to the NHS fraud conviction by blaming his barrister and a senior judge of the utmost integrity, for pressurising him to plead guilty.
His Honour Judge Marks added:
You are an intelligent man, a professional man. You tried to pull the wool over the eyes of jury against a background where you convinced yourself that you had not committed any offences and that you were a victim of a vicious witch hunt by the NHS.
Mr Preedy was sentenced on the same day to 9 months imprisonment and ordered to pay prosecution costs in the sum of £16,000.00.
Notes to editors
Name of Defendant: Ronald James Preedy, Surrey. Date of birth: 15 September 1942
The charge: fraudulently transferring his share of the equity in his home address, 153 Sandy Lane, to his three children.
Offence: Count 1 - Ronald James Preedy is charged as follows:
Statement of Offence: Bankrupt fraudulently transferring property, contrary to section 357(1) of the Insolvency Act 1986.
Particulars of Offence: Ronald James Preedy, on 11 July 2007, being a bankrupt in the period of five years ending with the commencement of the bankruptcy, made or caused to be made a transfer of his property, namely his share in a residential property at 153 Sandy Lane South, Wallington, Surrey, SM6 9NP.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.
Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
BIS’ mission is to build a dynamic and competitive UK economy, in particular by creating the conditions for business success and promoting an open global economy. The Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions team contributes to this aim by taking action to deter fraud and to regulate the market. They investigate and prosecute a range of offences, primarily relating to personal or company insolvencies. Further information about the work of the Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions team is available.
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Published: 30 September 2015
From: The Insolvency Service