The maverick freeholder Michael Stainer, 74, who owns The Grand hotel and apartments in Folkestone, has been sentenced to three years in prison.
He was found to have cheated staff and taxpayers out of nearly £500,000.
Mr Stainer’s wife Doris, 60, was charged with her chartered accountant husband but was cleared by the jury after insisting that she had no idea what her husband was up to.
One staff employee was presented with a tax bill of £3,500, and subsequently it emerged that Mr Stainer had withheld all the staff’s tax contributions.
HMRC has ensured that none of The Grand’s employees will lose out in terms of their own PAYE and National Insurance positions on account of Mr Stainer’s fraud.
Full Kent Online report here
Mr Stainer’s chaotic and now fraudulent behaviour has long been a source of woe to leaseholders at The Grand.
Management was finally wrested from his control by Alison Mooney and Peter Cobrin, of Westbury Residential, specialists in section 24 court appointments which now has joined the long-term LKP-accredited URANG group, which is itself headed by Paul Cleaver
In March last year Mr Cobrin described his involvement in The Grand, once a haunt of Edward VII and his mistresses.
“In 2016 I became the chairperson of the residents’ association at the Grand in Folkstone.
“This building has been in and out of court since 1985, invariably over the conduct of the freeholder, both as an individual and later as director of the landlord company, in relation to unpaid service charges and lack of maintenance.
“As far back as 1985 he was fined in the magistrates’ court for not complying with numerous leaseholder requests for the summary of costs for service charges.
“After 10 years of battling leaseholders, he ended up insolvent and entered into an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangements). The Grand was repossessed, only for him to buy it back through a company he controlled.
“Finally, in near desperation, in 2014 a group of residents secured a tribunal-appointed manager.
“… Fast forward to 2017, we gained formal recognition as a residents’ association in the teeth of bitter opposition.
“Within months, we also secured a determination that found the landlord’s directors (same people) liable in their personal capacity for over £170,000 of unpaid service charges on their 19 flats.”
Anthony Hucklesby, prosecuting in the tax fraud case, said:
“His fraud was conducted over a sustained period of time, 4 years … There’s never been any suggestion on Mr Stainer’s behalf that the decision not to declare and pay over the taxes would have rested with anyone other than him.”
Mukul Chawla QC, for Stainer, referenced to the court:
“Mr Stainer’s good character, in fact, I submit in light of everything you have seen, his exemplary character over a long period of time – albeit I must accept that this has to be taken together with the fact that this was a sustained period of offending.”