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Bankrupt faces imprisonment for hiding assets 8 February 2013

A former bankrupt has received an eight-month prison sentence after he was found guilty of failing to disclose to a bankruptcy trustee the funds he had received following the sale of a flat he owned.

At the trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, Simon Peter Eagle, 54, pleaded guilty to two counts of omitting to disclose a bank account he held to the official receiver as required by law. He was sentenced to five months imprisonment on each count.

The court also found him guilty of failing to disclose his interest in a flat, which is a condition of his bankruptcy, and for which he was handed an eight month sentence. The two sentences will run concurrently.

Eagle, formerly of Harlow in Essex, was adjudged bankrupt in 2003.

According to the Insolvency Service, he had previously contested a bankruptcy petition in relation to an £8,000 credit card debt.

Although he later settled his debt, his failure to pay the legal fees as a result of his decision to contest the action led to a second petition being issued against him.

Deputy chief investigating officer Ian West from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “This should be a warning to all bankrupts not to try to conceal assets.

“Mr Eagle made a cynical and calculated attempt to illegally hide assets from the official receiver. This is a matter that is taken seriously by the courts and can, as has happened in this case, attract a custodial sentence.”

Companies that were controlled by Eagle also owed more than £16m to financial services provider Pershings Securities, which was related to losses from unsettled share transactions in a share “ramping” scheme.

Share ramping, or “pumping and dumping”, is the influence of a company’s share price in order to take advantage.

The Financial Services Authority imposed a £2.8m civil penalty on Eagle and a confiscation order of £24,419 plus interest was also ordered by the court.

He was acquitted on two counts of failing to disclose property, namely £1.2m in shares commission, which was settled by Eagle on an Isle of Man-based trust in favour of his wife and children.

He successfully argued that the money was not his but that it belonged to the same British Virgin Islands-registered company for which he claimed to hold the flat on trust.

In passing sentence, the judge noted Eagle’s lack of remorse and his tendency when giving evidence during his trial to attack the official receiver and the trustee in bankruptcy for failing to investigate his case properly.



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