Suffolk escort scam trial: Mark Bell 'lied to MoJ'
- 16 May 2013
- From the section Suffolk
A Suffolk businessman on trial for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering has told jurors he lied to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Mark Bell, 41, of Westerfield, is one of five defendants in a £5.7m escort and debt elimination scam.
Ipswich Crown Court has heard bogus companies cold-called customers or attracted them via websites.
Mr Bell told the court he knew there were untruths in letters he signed as director to regulators at the MoJ.
Toni Muldoon, who ran the fraud from Spain, has already admitted conspiracy to defraud in a case which was investigated by Suffolk Trading Standards following complaints from customers.
Prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg said Mr Bell did not tell the MoJ there were no staff in the UK and the company was being run from Spain.
Mr Bell said: "I can't answer the reason why.
"That was what I was told to put I suppose."
When asked who told him, he replied "Toni Muldoon".
The jury has already heard how Mr Bell believed he was getting involved in the honest business of providing phone lines.
The prosecution allege he later became Muldoon's UK partner, recruiting directors to bogus companies which conned 14,000 people in the UK to pay upfront fees for bogus debt elimination schemes.
Others paid fees to become escorts on non-sexual dates.
Four others all deny conspiracy to defraud.
They are Christopher Taylor, 57, from Wakefield, a former detective with West Yorkshire Police; Colin Samuels, 61, from Redgrave, Suffolk; Bradley Rogers, 29, from Malaga, and Geraldine French, 60, who lived in Spain and also has links in Suffolk.
The trial continues.