Copthorne man arrested after absconding during £1.9million fraud trial

A man who was convicted and sentenced to four and a half years for fraud - despite absconding halfway through his trial - was later arrested on a flight from Afghanistan.

Police say that Guy Minnis, from Copthorne, was arrested after the flight from Kabul landed at Birmingham Airport on June 22.

Officers say that Minnis was involved in an investigation led by Surrey Police’s Economic Crime Unit into an allegation of fraud involving the diversion of a commercial invoice payment for £1.9million, and associated money laundering offences.

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During April and May 2015, ‘unidentified offenders’ contacted a firm called London Energy Limited through a fraudulent internet domain name purporting to be genuine supplier FCC Environment Limited.

Guy Minnis

They then began corresponding with London Energy’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, say police.

This resulted in London Energy sending an invoice payment for £1,092,468.30 to a bank account held in the name of Guy Minnis, on May 29 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.

Officers carried out a warrant at Minnis’ home address in Copthorne on September 10 2015, and Minnis was arrested.

When questioned, 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.

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.”