Man arrested after absconding during fraud trial
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A man who was convicted and sentenced to four and a half years for fraud despite absconding halfway through his trial was arrested on a flight from Afghanistan last month.
Guy Minnis was arrested after the flight from Kabul landed at Birmingham Airport on 22 June.
Minnis was involved in Operation Tun, an investigation led by Surrey Police’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU) into an allegation of fraud by false representation involving the diversion of a commercial invoice payment for £1.09million, and associated money laundering offences.
During the course of April and May 2015, unidentified offenders contacted the complainant, London Energy Limited through a fraudulent internet domain name purporting to be genuine supplier FCC Environment Limited.
They then began corresponding with the complainant’s accounts staff, quoting a genuine prior invoice number to build credibility, before advising them that they had changed their email address and bank details. This resulted in the complainant sending an invoice payment for £1,092,468.30 to a bank account held in the name of Guy Minnis, on 29 May 2015.
Electronic payments totalling £1,030,547.86 were then made from the account the same day.
Cash withdrawals and card transactions totalling £6,000 were also made in east and central London shortly after the diverted funds were received. The receiving account was opened in March 2015, but was dormant with a nil balance prior to the fraudulently diverted funds being received.
This, and evidence obtained later in the investigation, suggested that the account was opened specifically to execute the fraud.
The investigation was allocated to Surrey Police on 7 July 2015, after it was established that Minnis was living in Surrey.
A statement was subsequently provided by London Energy confirming the fraud.
Officers carried out a warrant at Minnis’ home address in Copthorne, West Sussex, on 10 September 2015, and Minnis was arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.
During interview, Minnis said he had never heard of London Energy until he was contacted by the company’s legal team seeking to recover the monies, and said he had fully co-operated in subsequent civil proceedings. He denied being knowingly involved in any aspect of the fraud and associated money laundering offences.
Further investigation revealed that the money in the account Minnis had set up was being transferred into an account belonging to Olusegun Olakunle Agunbiade, 42, of Lagos, Nigeria.
Agunbiade arranged to attend Guildford police station for a voluntary interview on 7 July 2016, during which he denied any knowledge of or involvement in the offences under investigation. He stated that his bank, HSBC, contacted him sometime in 2015 and asked if he was expecting any money, to which he replied he was not. HSBC closed his account shortly after this conversation.
Enquiries revealed a further account had been set up in his ex-wife’s name with money transferred during March 2016, clearly showing that Agunbiade had used this account for money laundering.
Agunbiade was subsequently convicted of fraud and money laundering offences and sentenced to seven years following a trial at Guildford Crown Court in April 2019.
Detective Inspector Anna Martin from Surrey Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said:
“Bringing Minnis to justice after he absconded during his fraud trial is the due to the hard work, tenacity and determination of the investigation team.
“This was a complex case to investigate due to the huge amount of digital, financial and paper evidence involved. Minnis put a lot of time and effort into making the transaction seem legitimate, and making it appear as if he was calling from a genuine company.
“The fact that he has finally brought to justice shows that we will never give up and that we will find you.
“If you feel like you have been the victim of a fraud, please seek professional advice and help and report it to Action Fraud.”