Anton director pleads guilty on all charges

By Rhys Handley, Thursday 21 December 2017

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Brian Thomas, one of the five former directors of Anton Group charged with Cheating the Public Revenue, has pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to all three charges brought against him.

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The trial will take place on 28 November 2018 at Southwark Crown Court

Alongside fellow defendants John and Stephen Knight (72 and 65 respectively), Thomas was charged on one count of failing to declare income from sales of waste paper and aluminium.

Thomas, the Knights, and Paul Murphy (55) were also charged on one count of concealing the balances of directors’ loan accounts at Anton, and one count of failing to declare payments for the remuneration of Anton directors and employees to HMRC.

While the Knights and Murphy all submitted their pleas at a hearing on 1 December, Thomas was granted extra time by Presiding Judge Joanna Korner due to his taking up new counsel. He returned to submit his guilty pleas to all charges on Monday (18 December).

Thomas, 67, is now represented by Peter Hugh for his defence, while Stephen Hopper stood for the prosecution.

He joins the Knights pleading guilty to the first and third charges: failing to declare income from sales of waste paper and aluminium and failing to declare payments to directors and employees.

However, the Knights pleaded not guilty on the second charge of concealing the balances of directors’ loan accounts, and Murphy pleaded not guilty on both of his charges. A trial, set to take place on the agreed-upon date of 28 November 2018, will try all the not guilty pleas submitted by various defendants.

Thomas will be sentenced alongside his former colleagues at the completion of the trial, which is expected to last between two and three weeks.

Philip Sach, 51, the fifth defendant, pleaded guilty on 1 December to a fourth count on the indictment where he alone is charged with the fraudulent evasion of income tax.

On 1 October 2014, all five of the accused resigned as directors of Anton Group, when the company was sold to the Anton Employee Ownership Trust for £14.3m. The £36.5m-turnover company fell into administration in March this year and ceased trading a month later with a creditors' shortfall of almost £13.4m. At the time of its collapse it employed 315 staff.

Please note: Due to the ongoing nature of the court case, comments on this article have been disabled.

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