Thursday 5th April 2018
A manager working for Sir Robert McAlpine masterminded a £1.2million fraud which he then spent on a lavish home and luxury cars.
In a series of complex frauds, he siphoned off huge sums to line his own pockets and that of contractor Neil Dunningham, who was in on the scam.
A court heard Ager paid off his mortgage with the proceeds and bought a series of luxury cars, including a Jaguar, Range Rover and an Audi A6.
Mr Ager, 34, has been jailed for three years at Newcastle Crown Court while Dunningham, 47, was given 30 months.
Susan Hirst, prosecuting, said the total figure involved in the offences, which spanned two-and-a-half years, was £1,277,014.21.
Miss Hirst described the frauds as ‘complex and planned’.
She added: “In his role he was permitted to provide one of the two approvals required to make payments to subcontractors for any construction contract that he was assigned to.
“The defendant Neil Dunningham was one of the contractors who would carry out work for Sir Robert McAlpine. He is a director and shareholder of a number of companies, including Dunningham Decorators Ltd and Clovely Care Limited.
“It seems to have been a feature of the business that sometimes contractors were paid indirectly. The payment would be made to a third party who was conducting work for Sir Robert McAlpine and then that third party would make the payment to the contractor, having deducted a small percentage as a ‘handling’ fee”
One of the offences involved a company awarded a contract by Sir Robert McAlpine in 2012.
A payment certificate for £429,843 was authorised by Ager, who contacted the firm and asked them to receive and transfer funds to another contractor who could not be paid directly.
A payment of £200,000 was paid to the firm to then be transferred to Dunningham’s company, Clovely Ltd.
Miss Hirst said: “Clovely Ltd has never been used as a contractor by Sir Robert McAlpine and so this payment was entirely fraudulent.”
Dunningham collected a cheque from the innocent firm in the sum of £201,435 and paid it into the Clovely Ltd account and then into his own personal building society account.
Miss Hirst said: “A week later he paid for British Airways flights for David Ager in the sum of £9,062.
“He also paid off the finance on Ager’s Audi motor vehicle to the value of £22,706 and he paid £50,000 off David Ager’s mortgage.
“A further £5,000 was withdrawn in cash from his account.”
When police later searched Ager’s house, they found a bank statement which had a calculation on the back showing both men were to receive a 50/50 share of the £200,000 from the fraudulent transaction.
She added: “During the period of these offences David Ager had paid off his mortgage - a sum of nearly £130,000.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Stephen Earl said the scam was a complex and planned and committed while Ager was in a position of trust.
He said: “It’s obvious both defendants were motivated by greed and committed these offences simply because the opportunity presented itself.