Legitimate recycling companies are able to stay in business and make a profit using good management and investing in the latest technology, amongst other approved business practices, but the owners of Nationwide Recycling Limited went for broke with non-legitimate practices, and they have been caught at it.
The glass recycling company operating out of Neath had been under investigation prior to a raid by the Environment Agency in 2010, when officers found evidence of falsification of documents regarding the amount of glass the company actually recycled. In 2012 the Swansea Crown Court heard evidence on charges of fraud and money laundering as well as illegal storage of waste.
Two of Nationwide’s directors, Paul Thomas and Andrew Thomas pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud; they had been weighing the facility’s machinery and lorries as a way to generate fake weighbridge tickets and invoices. The court found that the conspirators had taken in almost £2 million profit for jobs that were never done – glass that was never received or recycled.
Part of the scheme included phony registration numbers for vehicles they claimed had delivered loads of waste to be recycled; one such number for a vehicle supposedly delivering 20 tonnes of glass belonged to a Harley Davidson motorcycle. In one week the company claimed receipt of 130 loads of waste for recycling; officers determined that actually only 62 loads had been delivered in that time.
The two men also pleaded guilty to charges of failing to acquire the relevant environmental permit for running the company, and to other charges of ‘concealing or converting’ income from property. In this case they had been accepting metal cans for recycling from several local authorities (including the Swansea Council) and instead of recycling them, selling them to scrap dealers for cash to the tune of almost £300,000.
The two directors were prosecuted separately from the limited company itself and will be sentenced separately. Paul and Andrew are facing prison time, and the company is already in receivership. Two other staff members, Beverley Bradford and Terrence Aince, were also found guilty on similar but lesser charges of fraud.