The mastermind behind a plot to systematically fleece more than #2.9 million from the pension fund of a Birmingham lock-makers has been sent to jail for eight years.
Kevin Sykes (pictured) was the main figure behind the scam, which left scores of pensioners who worked at Hockley-based CW Cheney & Son Ltd facing financial ruin.
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Four other people involved in the conspiracy were jailed for a total of 18 years for their part in the theft.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how Sykes, and associates, bought Cheney for #175,000 in 1999.
The firm was then passed through a series of shell companies, all owned and controlled by Sykes, who systematically emptied the pension fund account.
An estimated #1 million was removed in cash while the remainder was used to pay off underworld contacts of the group.
Sykes (45) was sentenced to six-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal. He was also told to serve 18 months of a suspended sentence and was barred from being a company director for ten years.
Simon Michael Maya (53), Altaf Sayed (38) and Ian David Selby (58) were all convicted of conspiracy to steal at an earlier trial.
Maya was jailed for seven years, Sayed was sent to prison for three-and-a-half years, and Selby received a four- and- a- half year jail sentence.
Trevor Hamilton Farrell (40) pleaded guilty to the same charge and was jailed for three years.
Two other people - Cassius Augustus Powell, aged 39, and Adrienne Gay Morris, aged 58 - were also charged with conspiracy to steal.
Powell was acquitted following a trial. The Serious Fraud Office decided not to proceed with a trial of Morris.
The court proceedings took place last year but reporting restrictions were imposed because of a pending Department of Trade and Industry case against Sykes.
That case ended yesterday when Sykes received a fouryear prison sentence related to his fraudulent trading as a "credit resistance strategist" under the business name White Knight. The sentence will run concurrently with his previous sentence.
Sentencing Sykes over the Cheney case, Judge Derek Stanley, said: "I have no doubt you played a leading role in the eventual plundering of the Cheney pension fund and thereby causing financial misery to the beneficiaries of that fund.
"It is abundantly plain that you were involved in dishonesty and deceit from the outset."
Detective Sergeant Bob Cairns, from West Midlands Police, said: "I believe the sentence is justified.
"Sykes showed a complete disregard for the pensioners of the company."
Philip Blakebrough, assistant director at the Serious Fraud Office and the senior case lawyer, said: "This was a callous and ruthlessly executed fraud designed from the start to steal the Cheney pension fund by setting up a system of puppet trustees who, instead of protecting the fund, helped to plunder it.
"Together with the West Midlands Police economic crime unit we conducted a painstaking investigation that unravelled the mechanism of the fraud.
"Sykes is a dishonest, greedy, selfish man, who is also highly manipulative."
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