Christopher Diccon Wright, co-owner of the Swan Collection of restaurants, who laundered over £1.5m in bribes paid to a corrupt Sainsbury's potato buyer through his Luxembourg bank accounts, was jailed for 22 months today (Monday).
Wright, 50, of Blaise Farm, Tower Hill, Offham, West Malling, has a stake in the Swan restaurant, West Malling, and the Swan at Shakespeare's Globe, Bankside.
He built his £4m-plus fortune, which also includes a huge buy-to-let property empire, after his release from prison nearly 20 years ago for a unit trust and shares scam.
"You did not need to get involved in this at all, particularly since you served a substantial period of imprisonment for fraud years before," Judge Nicholas Ainley told Wright as he jailed him at Croydon Crown Court.
"You must have suspected you were dealing with someone else's money.
"You should have got out, but you did not and now you should take the consequences of allowing your account to be used to transfer considerable amounts of money."
Wright pleaded guilty to entering into a money laundering arrangement between 1 February 2007 and 31 July 2008 with John Maylam, 42, of Blakeny Close, Bearstead, 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 and laundered some of the bribes via Wright.
Wright's lawyer, Mark Ellison QC, told the court: "He knew John Maylam as a regular and good customer at the Swan since 2001.
"He was obviously someone who was comfortably off, who spent £15,000 to £20,000 a year at the restaurant and had a number of expensive vehicles and a one-million-pound house.
"He was a self-made high-flyer, who was a bit of a big shot in the potato industry as far as Mr Wright knew.
"Mr Maylam was an individual capable of taking people in and when Mr Wright had his suspicions he did not act when he should have done."
Father-of-two Wright did not receive money for laundering the corrupt payments, but the sums passing through his account did allow him to obtain a £130,000 overdraft.
"It is his personality and drive that has made his businesses successful. He is the front-of house presence and takes care of the customers," Ellison added.
When Maylam's arrest was publicised in 2008 Wright immediately went to the Serious Organised Crime Agency and City of London Police to explain his role.
"He said he was holding funds for Maylam in his own account and asserted he had suspicions the funds may be the proceeds of crime," said prosecutor Paul Ozil.
"He said Maylam was a regular at the Swan and settled his bills with a corporate American Express card in the name of Greenvale and he knew him to be a senior Greenvale executive.
"This was not the whole truth.
"From early 2007 Mr Wright was the dominant personality setting up the Luxembourg bank accounts and all the transactions were instigated by him."
Wright authorised the purchase of an Aston Martin for Maylam and financed other luxuries from the accounts.
The court also heard that in 1991 at the Old Bailey Wright received four-and-a-half years for conspiracy to defraud and steal and deception.
By Court reporter
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