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Co-owner of Swan Collection restaurants warned to expect jail term over potato scam

19 July 2012
Co-owner of Swan Collection restaurants warned to expect jail term over potato scam

A successful restaurateur admitted today (Thursday 19 July) laundering more than £1.5m in bribes paid to a Sainsbury's executive in return for a lucrative potato contract.

Christopher Diccon Wright, 50, of Blaise Farm, Tower Hill, Offham, West Malling, is the co-owner of the Swan restaurant, West Malling and the Swan at Shakespeare's Globe, Bankside.

He must wait to hear his fate, but he was warned by Judge Nicholas Ainley at Croydon Crown Court: "You should prepare yourself for a sentence of imprisonment."

The judge adjourned sentencing until 10 September and freed Wright until then on £100,000 bail.

Wright pleaded guilty to entering into a money laundering arrangement between 1 February 2007 and 31 July 2008 with John Maylam, 42, of 6 Blakeny Close, Bearsted, Maidstone, in relation to £1,583,957.

Ex-Sainsbury's buyer Maylam is serving a four-year prison sentence for corruptly receiving £4.9m from potato supplier Greenvale. He laundered some of the bribes via Wright.

Wright's solicitors are currently holding £561,000 laundered by their client and another £99,000 is in one of the defendant's bank accounts.

The prosecution has applied for those sums to be returned to Sainsbury's.

Wright's QC, Mark Ellison, told the court: "We appreciate the seriousness of the offence, but we do ask for a report.

"He has heavy involvement in a restaurant business that is part and parcel of his involvement with John Maylam and is going to be very busy over the period of the Olympics.

"He is basically open 24 hours a day and they are running several venues and he really needs to be where he needs to be over the next four weeks."

Wright's personal assets have been restrained since May 2008. In 1991 at the Old Bailey he received four-and-a-half years for fraud.

"He wants to sort out his personal assets before sentencing," added the QC, who successfully asked for the restraining order to be lifted.

The Swan - Menuwatch >>

By Court Reporter

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