A man at the centre of a multi-million dollar fraud against an American pharmaceutical firm has been jailed for over seven and a half years.
Michael Kinane, an ex-petrol station manager, infiltrated the email systems of a London-based investment company to obtain nearly £6 million from his home in Porthmadog.
He also admitted three counts of fraud involving vehicle hire purchase agreements – in one case, he claimed he was a director of the energy giant Shell in order to obtain a Range Rover.
Kinane, a Sri Lankan-born British citizen, sent fake emails to staff within the targeted firm, requesting due payments for legitimate work be paid into new accounts – including one belonging to Kinane.
In November 2018, the company paid $7.8 million into Kinane’s NatWest account. Over the next three days, those funds were split and sent to associates in Poland, Germany, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia.
Shortly afterwards, police were alerted to the scam by Action Fraud, the national reporting centre.
Last August, detectives tracked down Kinane at Gatwick Airport, where he was arrested after disembarking a flight from Turkey. He was charged with money laundering and fraud by false representation after three days of questioning.
Kinane previously denied the charges when he appeared before Caernarfon Crown Court, but his changed plea before he was due to stand trial.
So far, police have obtained documents for 32 accounts belonging to Kinane. Because the fraud was reported as soon as it was discovered, the company was able to recover around $1.6 million.
Kinane was sentenced to seven years and eight months in jail. He also faces a consfication hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act in July.
Judge Nicola Jones said Kinane was ”essentially motivated by greed” and the money would not have been laundered without him. She accepted that he was ”not the architect of the scam”, but added she was not convinced by his remorse.
The defence described Kinane as a ”fall guy” who believed his co-conspirators’ plan was legitimate from the outset. He found himself ”totally out of this depth” when he became involved in the fraud and ended up with only himself to blame.
After sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Kearney, said: ”Fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in the UK. In the last crime recording year, there were over 4600 frauds in North Wales reported to Action Fraud representing an £8.9m loss.”
”The impact of fraud and related offences can be devastating and can range from unaffordable personal losses suffered by vulnerable victims to impacting the ability of organisations to stay in business. With a significant increase of fraud now being committed online, this enables fraudsters to exploit victims remotely, often from another country.”
”What is clear is that businesses and high-net-worth individuals are now being increasingly targeted due to their larger financial transactions and the greater potential profits for fraudsters.”
”This case has been solved because of the support we have received from the companies concerned, the work of the FBI in their parallel investigation and the excellent support we have received from the specialist fraud division of the Crown Prosecution Service in Merseyside.
”I am grateful to the companies involved in this case for their full support and co-operation throughout this investigation.”