Victims of building company owner Gary Robb have been awarded £1.3 million after being defrauded in a property scam in North Cyprus
A civil recovery action against Robb aged 52, has led to around £1.6m of assets being frozen and a £1.3 million share-out between 57 of the victims.
In 2001 Robb from Middlesbrough set up a property development business, AGA Developments, and took payments from mainly British buyers, some of whom handed over £100,000 each to build holiday villas.
But his company failed to complete a single house in the Amaranta Valley development near Arapkoy in North Cyprus.
Donald Toon, director of economic crime command for the National Crime Agency who worked on the case, said: “This case is the first time that this legislation has been used to both disrupt serious criminal activity, and enable victims to reclaim funds.
Achieving today’s result has taken a determined effort over several years.
The NCA will be patient and persistent, and will continue to use every tool at its disposal to disrupt criminals like Robb and deprive them of the assets they acquire through crime.”
Former drug dealer, nightclub and pub owner Robb became one of the North-east’s most wanted men when he fled his home to hide away in North Cyprus in 1997.
He had been due to stand trial for drugs offences after a £10,000 haul of Class-A substances was found at the Stockton nightclub Robb ran, but he fled the day before his court hearing.
In 2009, Robb was removed from North Cyprus to the UK, where he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
After completing his custodial sentence he was extradited to Cyprus and was sentenced by authorities there to 11 months in prison for illegal use of the land for his Amaranta Valley development.
In March 2012, SOCA, one of the NCA’s precursors, was successful in its civil recovery action against Robb.
Following this, and an appeal for victims to come forward, the victims submitted a joint claim.
The NCA then assisted them by providing relevant information obtained during its investigation to support their claims and trace back the money they had invested to Robb’s frozen fund.
The funds were awarded to victims on Wednesday at the Royal Courts of Justice. This is the first time the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has been used in this way.