Conman denies having money hidden away

Conman Paul Martin Encell has gone to jail saying he has nothing salted away and can pay nothing back to the victims who have lost $750,000. Inland Revenue is not so sure.

Christchurch District Court Judge Tom Gilbert jailed the 52-year-old for five years on 33 fraud charges, but made no order for Encell – who he described as “a classic conman” – to repay the victims.

“You are good at putting over a particular impression of yourself,” said the judge. “That is what has enabled you to offend repeatedly in the way you have.”

IRD senior prosecutor Paul Saunders said the Commissioner of Inland Revenue had been unable to trace $127,535 of the money deposited into Encell’s bank account.

“Essentially that money was withdrawn in cash and the commissioner has no means of addressing where it’s gone,” he said.

“Because the offending involved the use of false identities and he has previously lived overseas, the commissioner considers there is a risk that the money has been essentially salted away, but can provide no evidence to the court that it has happened.”

Over 15 months, when the cash was withdrawn, there were also electronic transactions which covered Encell’s expenditure on travel, accommodation, and food. “The cash wasn’t just for extravagant living – that is already accounted for.”

However, defence counsel Paul Johnson told the court that Encell said he had nothing salted away. He had no cash, and no assets. The $8000 he had in his Kiwisaver account had already been taken by the IRD.

Encell will now serve a five-year jail term and will be deported to Britain when he is released. Judge Gilbert said it would be meaningless to make an order for reparation.

That means victim Barry Jones, 59, will get nothing back after Encell left him $200,000 out of pocket after signing up to manage his “dream house” project. Encell claimed to have a Master Build guarantee and public liability insurance but when his Encell Group was liquidated Mr Jones was devastated to discover the lies.

There was no guarantee and no insurance. The money was gone and the project was only partially complete. Since then, he has struggled with rental accommodation, lived in a caravan with a portaloo and temporary shower, and now is struggling to finish the home. His relationship has broken down and he has now taken a contract to work overseas for two years to try to make up some of the losses.

“This guy’s pretty much ruined my life,” Mr Jones told the sentencing session. He had expected to be retiring to his dream home after working hard all his life, but was struggling, even after selling his collection of vintage cars.

Mr Johnson said Encell’s company had been set up legitimately, but then there had been difficulties, and publicity, and the company had gone into liquidation. He had committed the offences to try to prop up the company. He had tried to live the lifestyle he was used to, and a lot of the money had been spent on alcohol and gambling.

Judge Gilbert said Encell had ruined Mr Jones’ life in committing the frauds totalling $750,000, including losses for IRD and for customers he defrauded with Facebook sales online – at a time when he was already on bail.

He noted that Encell had forged guarantors’ signatures to set up loan agreements and obtain goods worth $170,000 that were never paid for. The forgeries indicated that it was never a legitimate business – “It was always underpinned by fraud,” the judge said.

Encell has two children and two grandchildren in New Zealand, and his deportation would mean he would miss out on seeing them, Mr Johnson said. He had expressed remorse in letters of apology to the victims, and to the court.

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