Rogue car dealer told to pay £6m or face jail

Kirk Claus
Kirk Claus

A rogue car dealer who operated from an industrial unit in Hipperholme has been told to pay back more than £6 million or face seven years in jail.

Kirk Claus, 47, who was jailed for three years in 2012 after being convicted of conspiring to defraud customers and money laundering, must pay back £6,203,025.72 within six months or face an extended period behind bars.

In 2012 Leeds Crown Court heard how Claus and five other men - Craig Firth, 54, of Mossy Bank Close, Queensbury; Peter Wayne Bray, 57, of Division Lane, Blackpool; Michael Barry Adams, 43, of Crag Road, Shipley; David Patrick Kelly, 30, of Bradford Road, Manchester; and Paul Clements, 36, from the Romley area of Greater Manchester - used a premises in Halifax Road, Hipperholme, to defraud thousands of customers. Among the various businesses operating from the site was Chequered Flag Car Sales.

They sold unsuspecting customers cars that had been written off by insurance companies, and laughed when people later complained to them about the state of the vehicles. They also sold vehicles with various disguised faults, such as a sand filled radiator, and sold vehicles with false warranties. Claus, who was also given nine months in prison for contempt of court after failing to reveal his full assets and is banned from being a company director for five years, is said to have benefited from criminal activity to the tune of £15,530,636.71.

After making the Confiscation Order against Claus at Leeds Crown Court, Judge Guy Kearl QC said: “You have never paid income tax or completed a self assessment. You disguised your true identity to conduct business in cash and have done everything possible to thwart the confiscation process.”

Judge Kearl also ordered Claus, of Slate Delf Farm, Cragg Vale, to pay compensation totalling £44,430.20 to 19 of the victims from the monies confiscated.

Chequered Flag Cars and Bikes Limited was fined £250,000. The Confiscation Orders followed an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act by the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team and the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Trading Standards Scambuster Team.