Northampton

Seized art from Northamptonshire fraud to be auctioned

Simpson picture Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption Jellis used company credit cards to buy art from auction houses

Seized collectables including an original animation frame from The Simpsons are to be auctioned to recoup some of the £2.4m taken by a fraudster.

Stephen Jellis, of Greens Norton, Northamptonshire, is serving five years and eight months after admitting fraud and money laundering in March 2017.

He used company credit cards to buy art and antiques from auction houses such as Christies and Sotheby's.

It is hoped the September auction will raise £1.2m for two firms he defrauded.

The former accountant siphoned off at least £2.4m from Daventry-based Rofin Baasel and its sister company ES Technology Ltd, between August 2004 and September 2015.

Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption Stephen Jellis's crimes funded a "lavish lifestyle", police said
Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption The collection includes paintings and books

Jellis, 53, the firms' financial controller, had been paying company cheques to himself and writing business-related payments on the cheque stubs.

He overpaid his own salary and arranged tickets for colleagues for events at venues like Wembley - having paid for them out of company funds - before taking money from them.

Items including Victorian-era paintings, first-edition novels and original art from the likes of Scooby Doo and Winnie-the-Pooh were seized by the police.

Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption An invoice discovered by police showed Jellis paid £15,000 for an original Winnie-the-Pooh sketch

A confiscation hearing before a judge earlier this year granted Northamptonshire Police the right to sell the seized assets.

Auctioneer Will Gilding said it was an "eclectic collection".

Graham Cheatley from Northamptonshire Police said the fraud paid "for a lavish lifestyle and to amass a collection of valuable art and antiques".

"This was nothing but greed," he added.

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