DOZENS of investors defrauded by a South Shields-born nightclub boss in a holiday isle property scam are to share in a £1m-plus pay-out.
Fifty-two-year-old Gary Robb set up a property firm in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus after skipping bail on charges of permitting his Teesside nightclub to be used to supply cocaine and Ecstasy.
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.Donald Toon, Director of the NCA’s Economic Crime Command
AGA Developments took payments but failed to complete a single house in its Amaranta Valley development.
Yesterday, the Royal Courts of Justice ruled £1.3m should be returned to 57 victims as a result of work by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Robb was removed from north Cyprus to the United Kingdom in 2009, when he was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting drugs offences.
On release, he was extradited to Cyprus and sentenced to 11 months in prison for illegal use of land. The Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus in the south of the island considers the occupied north to be stolen land.
In March 2012, the NCA’s predecessor the Serious and Organised Crime Agency was successful in its civil recovery action and launched an appeal for victims to come forward and submit a joint claim.
The NCA assisted claimants by providing information obtained during its investigation to support their claims and trace back the money they had invested to Robb’s frozen assets.
Yesterday’s ruling is the first time the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has been used in this way.
Donald Toon, director of the NCA’s Economic Crime Command, 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.”
Chief Chancery Master Marsh, of the High Court said: “The NCA has played an important and helpful role in this litigation and has greatly assisted the court throughout.
“Furthermore, the approach adopted by the NCA of ‘helpful neutrality’ has been of great benefit to the claimants and has saved them a considerable amount of expense.”
n GARY Robb ran a string of North East venues during the 1990s, including Leroy’s in Hebburn and Jollie’s in Sunderland.
His empire came crashing down when police seized a haul of Ecstasy, cannabis and amphetamine worth £10,000 from The Colosseum in Stockton.
The day before he was due to stand trial in September 1997, he fled to Turkish-controlled north Cyprus, which had no extradition treaty with the UK.
After the SOCA intercepted the cash on its way to Thailand, Robb argued the money was clean, but Mr Justice Mackay said the cash transfer was “nothing more or less than a money laundering exercise.”