Mastermind of £4.3m bank theft plot 'must sell homes in York and Essex to repay victims'

The mastermind of an international scam has to sell his homes in York and Essex to pay back nearly £800,000 to victims.

Blanchard's home, Oakland House in Essex
Blanchard's home, Oakland House in Essex

The complex fraud, which stretched from Britain to Spain, Gibraltar and Tenerife, was uncovered by North Yorkshire Police more than a decade ago.

Paul Blanchard, 73, was sentenced in 2008 to six-and-a-half years in jail for his part in the scam, which included an audacious attempt to steal £4.3m from a London-based bank before transferring the cash to a Spanish account.

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Blanchard of St Oswald’s Court, Fulford, York, appeared before Teesside Crown Court on Monday, where he was made subject to a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation order in the sum of £1,026,887.45 which will be settled from the sale of properties in York and Essex, together with a high-value personalised registration number.

If he fails to carry out the order in three months, he faces another five-year term in jail.

The court also made compensation orders totalling £793,438.81 in respect of the victims in the case. They will be paid out of the confiscation money.

Ramona Senior, Head of the North East Regional Asset Recovery Tea, said: “I am delighted that this long-running case has finally been brought to a conclusion, particularly as 80 per cent of the funds confiscated will be used to recompense Blanchard’s victims.

“My staff have doggedly pursued Blanchard over the years it has taken to get to this stage and demonstrates both that the interests of victims of crime are given the highest priority and that delays only serve to put off the inevitable.

“If Blanchard fails to realise the assets subject of this order, we will appoint enforcement receivers and sell them irrespective of cooperation on his part.”

Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, head of North Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “This is a fantastic result and is testament to the support of victims in the case and the collaborative work of law enforcement."

Blanchard was jailed in 2008 after being convicted along with five other men and a woman of offences relating to money laundering, obtaining a false passport and theft

He was sentenced to six-and-half years for possessing criminal property (value £12,500), obtaining a money transfer by deception (value £30,000), conspiracy to obtain a money transfer by deception (value £4.3 million) and conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property (value £375,000).