Britain's richest prisoner starts his sentence | AccountingWEB

Britain's richest prisoner starts his sentence

Britain's richest prisoner started an 8 month sentence today.  David Mabey, who resigned as a director of bridge construction firm Mabey & Johnson Ltd in July 2008, has been convicted in relation to sanctions busting by the company in 2001.

Since 2008 the Serious Fraud Office has been investigating the company and certain of its former directors in relation to allegedly corruptly obtaining contracts in overseas countries, including Jamaica and Ghana, and sanctions busting in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's regime.

In 2009 the company pleaded guilty to three offences for which it was fined £3.5m, suffered a confiscation order of £1.1m, and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £350,000 and £1.4m in reparations.

The wealth of the Mabey family has been estimated to be nearly £200m, so David Mabey may be used to a better standard of accommodation than that which he is currently experiencing in prison.

His solicitor said after the verdict, "My client is surprised and profoundly disappointed by the jury's verdict today. He maintains he was personally unaware of any breaches of UN sanctions against Iraq within his company in 2000/01. He has instructed me to seek leave to appeal."

Mr Mabey has also been disqualified from acting as a company director for two years and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £125,000.


nogammonsinanundoubledgame's picture

So ...

nogammonsinanun... | | Permalink

... a confiscation order only £400K more than (ie less than double that of) a Del Boy who is convicted of fiddling £5K in 2002-03.  Shows what an expensive lawyer can do, I guess.  If that confiscation order was against the company, can we expect another one against the individual?  £250m sounds about par for the course.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

davidwinch's picture

Confiscation order (not)

davidwinch | | Permalink

There is no indication of an application being made for a confiscation order against Mr Mabey.


Any reason?

alistair_king | | Permalink

Is there any particular reason why no POCA action will be taken?

cymraeg_draig's picture


cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Is there any particular reason why no POCA action will be taken?


Posted by alistair_king on Thu, 24/02/2011 - 01:36


Yes - he's rich & well connected - or am I just a cynic ?

davidwinch's picture

Possible reasons

davidwinch | | Permalink

On one level I could say there is no confiscation against Mr Mabey personally because the prosecutor did not request it and the court did not initiate it of its own volition.

Less superficially, there was a confiscation order made against the company.  The wrongdoing was to do with the obtaining of contracts by the company.  So there is a logic to the confiscation being against the company rather than a (former) director.

It could be argued that there would be a double punishment (and hence an 'abuse of process') if both the company and the individual had been subject to confiscation.

On another level one could argue that the individual personally gained no benefit from the contracts obtained by the company.  Or perhaps that insofar as a benefit was gained by him (because his family own shares in the company) that had already been covered by the confiscation against the company.

The problem with a comparison with the 'del boy' character is that in confiscation (in a 'criminal lifestyle' case) there are statutory assumptions that all income received etc is proceeds of unspecified criminal conduct unless the contrary can be shown (on the balance of probabilities).  Now 'del boy' is likely to have had money passing through his hands for which he has no accounting records or other documentary evidence in explanation.  The money may be from trading which is legitimate - buying and selling used cars, for example - and IF HE CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT it is legitimate receipts (even if not declared for tax)*.  But if he cannot demonstrate that he has a real difficulty with the court!

On the other hand a company like Mabey & Johnson, or an individual like Mr Mabey, should (one would hope) be able to produce documentary evidence of monies received and spent.  So there won't be (or shouldn't be) a whole mess of 'grey area' of money sloshing about.

So 'del boy' may get a worse deal than a large company.

On another level - a purely pragmatic one - Mr Mabey was ordered to pay £125,000 towards prosecution costs.  The prosecutors may well have considered that applying for a costs order was an easier way to get money off Mr Mabey than going down the confiscation route.  If they had gone for confiscation the court would not have made the order for prosecution costs yesterday - they would have waited to see what came out of the confiscation proceedings first.  So perhaps there was an element of "a bird in the hand . . .".


* In which case the monies received are not 'benefit' for confiscation purposes - but the tax evaded is 'benefit'.  Obviously this will be less (unless the rate of tax is 100%!).

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