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15 July 2012, 06:00
A man from Norwich has been sentenced after admitting defrauding an American business out of tens of thousands of pounds while claiming to be running an eco-friendly wind turbine company.
Andrew Methven Davidson from Causeway Close, Norwich, was given a three month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months at Norwich Crown Court on Friday 13 July 2012 after previously pleading guilty to one count of fraud.
The 65-year-old was in the process of setting up a company, UK Maglev Wind Turbines Ltd, when he managed to win the contract to supply eco-friendly 'hybrid' street lights to Kovere Energy Ltd - a subsidiary of Kovere Energy Inc of Georgia, USA. Davidson won the contract in the summer of 2009 despite the fact his company comprised merely of him operating a website from his council flat in Norwich.
In the autumn 2009 Kovere Energy paid Â£54,672.18 ($91,692) into Davidson's bank accounts.
In 2010 Norfolk Constabulary received a complaint of fraud from Directors of Kovere Energy Inc.
The 'hybrid' street lighting comprised of street lamps equipped with solar panels, wind turbines and batteries - a green alternative to conventional mains powered street lighting. However, Davidson spent the money hiring staff and setting up offices in Curtis Road, Norwich. At its height in early 2010 UK Maglev Wind Turbines Ltd employed six staff and interns - giving the impression of being a rapidly growing company.
Detective Inspector Brian Beech of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Crime, said: "In reality their only significant contract was Kovere's and the money that should have been used to source wind turbine components was frittered away by Davidson.
Unfortunately crimes like this are on the increase and those involved in international trade are encouraged to 'look behind the website' and undertake proper due diligence research into the background and viability of potential trading partners."
Davidson was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service, placed on a tag for six months and disqualified from acting as a company director for three years.