Laundering charge dropped in escort fraud trial

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A businessman accused of involvement in multi-million pound frauds has had one of the charges against him thrown out.

After submissions by defence lawyers, Judge Rupert Overbury directed the jury at Ipswich Crown Court to return a not guilty verdict on Colin Samuels, 61, of The Street, Redgrave, on a charge of money laundering.

Samuels still faces one charge of money laundering involving £302,375 and two of conspiracy to defraud. He has pleaded not guilty to all.

The jury has heard claims that Samuels was part of a conspiracy in which call centres in Turkey and Spain were used to trick people in the UK into paying upfront fees in return for promised £600 a week payments for undertaking two ‘non-sexual’ dinner dates between November 2009 and November 2010.

Prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg said no money was handed over by the alleged conspirators and the fees they collected were not refunded. Instead the money was transferred out of the country using a network of bank accounts.

A second alleged fraud was said to involve people with large credit card debts in the UK being cold called from Spain and offered the chance to have their debts eliminated in return for a fee, charged to their credit card.

It is alleged that the frauds involved a total of £5.7 million and were masterminded by a man named Tony Muldoon who has pleaded guilty and who will be sentenced at a later date.

Also on trial are Mark Bell, 41, of Westerfield; Christopher Taylor, 57, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire; Bradley Rogers, 29, from Malaga and Geraldine French, 60, of Lowestoft.

Judge Overbury has also instructed the jury to return not guilty verdicts on three of the four charges faced by Bell.

The trial continues.