Fraudster must pay back cash or face jail

A CROOKED financial adviser from Ponteland has been ordered to pay back almost £1million.

Martin Watson was jailed for three years and nine months last year for conspiracy to obtain money transfers by deception, witness intimidation and perverting the course of justice.

Between 2004 and 2007 he put false information on hundreds of mortgage payments in one of the North East’s largest mortgage frauds.

Now released, he was at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday for a Proceeds of Crime hearing.

The 55-year-old, of Collingwood Crescent, has been ordered to pay back £237,624.74 within the next six months. If he fails, he will have to serve a three-year custodial sentence and still have to pay back the money.

This is the first instalment in a £913,307.60 life debt that will remain with him until the full sum is repaid. The amount is the sum that the court estimated Watson gained from his criminal activity.

If he ever makes any money or acquires any assets in the future, police can apply for a further confiscation up to the total of the criminal benefit.

Chief Inspector Jim McAll, who leads the Economic Crime Unit, said: “Watson used his trusted position to break the law. While the majority of people providing financial advice are law-abiding, there are a small minority who commit crime and feed on victims to support their own lifestyles.

“This confiscation should send out a clear message to anyone in these professions that they are not above the law, such behaviour is criminal, it will be investigated like any other crime and will result in criminal conviction and imprisonment.”