Fake watch seller sent back to prison for dissipating assets

This story was published 7 August 2020

A man who was imprisoned last year for selling and possessing for sale counterfeit watches following a prosecution by North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards has now been given a further prison sentence for contempt of court.

Watch

Warren Chung-Williams, 38, of Saltram Crescent, London, has today (7 August) been jailed for 10 months after admitting 11 counts of contempt of court at Teesside Crown Court.

Chung-Williams was originally sentenced in June 2019 to two years six months’ imprisonment, after pleading guilty to selling and having in possession for sale counterfeit watches. The sales were made through his company, Wristy Business Ltd. The original investigation by North Yorkshire Trading Standards had begun after a complaint from a North Yorkshire resident who had bought a watch from the Wristy Business website.

At that time, the court was told Chung-Williams also had previous convictions for theft and fraud relating to counterfeit credit cards, and fraud relating to counterfeit Oyster cards. Sentencing Chung-Williams then, His Honour Judge Sean Morris described him as “a disreputable and dishonest man”. That description was echoed today by His Honour Judge Carroll.

Also in June 2019, a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation timetable was set, to identify his financial benefit from crime and any assets he had available which could later be confiscated.

On his arrest on 10 April 2018, a restraint order was served on Chung-Williams to preserve his assets pending the final confiscation hearing at a later date.

Today’s hearing was to deal with multiple breaches of the restraint order, which began just an hour after Chung-Williams’ release from custody following arrest and service on him of the order. These breaches were discovered by financial investigators at North Yorkshire Trading Standards and the North East Regional Economic Crime Unit (RECU).

The breaches, which covered 11 different courses of conduct, included:

  • selling two vehicles and dissipating the sales proceeds;
  • opening eight new bank accounts and dissipating monies within the accounts;
  • within an hour of service of the restraint order, making arrangements to have £113,000 paid into an account of which the prosecution was unaware at the time, and subsequently dissipating the funds;
  • using an account in a false name, for which he had obtained a false passport to dissipate money.
  • using a company that he had not declared to the prosecution to dissipate assets; and
  • continuing to sell watches through a new business, Watch Spot (the prosecution has no evidence these watches were counterfeit) and dissipating the assets generated. 

As a result of the above actions, Chung-Williams was able to use and dissipate £254,594.42, which should have remained restrained and unused.

His Honour Judge Carroll, sentencing Chung-Williams today, said: “You showed a complete disregard of the Restraint Order placed upon you. This is a genuinely shocking case in how you behaved. You were previously dealt with for Trading Standards offences for selling counterfeit watches.

“Provision was made for your reasonable living expenses at a rate of £250 per week (within the restraint order). If that was insufficient it was open to you to apply to the court and explain and ask for more. The provisions are intended to provide fairness in relation to your needs.

“What you demonstrated was deliberate, determined and devious thwarting of the order and conduct or a pattern of behaviour within an hour, if not less, of receiving the order. It was clearly and carefully planned. I am told, and I accept, you are an extremely intelligent man. Your behaviour demonstrates significant intelligence. But you attached it thoroughly to your dishonest behaviour. You undertook, over an extended period of time, a whole series of actions with the sole purpose of sidestepping the restraint order, to the tune of £254,594.42.

“Contempt number nine of the 11 is particularly illustrative of the extent you were prepared to go to. You received the restraint order at 4pm. At 4.06pm you received an email from someone in relation to putting a very substantial sum into your bank account. Immediately you set about using a system of a false bank account, in a false name, and diverted money to an account set up to be as untraceable as you could make it. It is hard to think of a more glaring example of financial deception.”

Chung-Williams was also made the subject of a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act today. He was found to have benefited from his original offences by £1.535m and was ordered to repay £37,050.37 within three months. Should he fail to do so, he will face a further 18 months’ imprisonment in default.

Following the hearing, County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “We have an excellent financial investigations team at trading standards who, working together with the North East Regional Economic Crime Unit, have uncovered the complete disregard this defendant has shown to an order of Teesside Crown Court and the legal process of Proceeds of Crime Act asset confiscation. This case should act as a warning to other suspects who think they can behave in this way and avoid detection.”