A former director of the Belgo mussels-and-beer chain who repeatedly broke the law by using an illegal personalised numberplate on his £70,000 silver Ferrari was told by a judge last week that he was guilty of "stooping to dishonesty".
Tim Power, 35, who masterminded Belgo's £25m buyout of a string of restaurants, including London's Le Caprice and the Ivy, was convicted on two charges of fraudulent use of a registration mark and one charge of fraudulently using a tax disc.
He was arrested in February 2000 after being caught four times using the P9WER numberplate he had bought for £20,000 but had lost the right to use in 1998.
Power was also accused of using tax discs - one of them stolen - from other motor cars on the Ferrari. Power claimed he left such trivial business to the two chauffeurs who had looked after his £3m fleet of 10 cars.
The Recorder, Andrew Jeffreys QC, said Power had "stooped to dishonesty", knowing that without a log book or registration document he could not get the Ferrari taxed with the numberplate he wanted. He said Power's wealth and success had made him feel he was above the law.
Ruling out a custodial sentence, Jeffreys remanded Power on bail until 19 April while pre-sentence reports are prepared.
Power, who arrived at court each day by public transport, told the court he had lost his fortune trading in stocks and shares in late 1999.
By Colin Fernandez