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Nationwide directors jailed for four years over glass PRN fraud

Two directors of a recycling company responsible for a multimillion pound fraud of glass PRNs have both been jailed for four years.

At Swansea Crown Court, Paul and Andrew Thomas, former directors of Nationwide Recycling, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering, according to National Resources Wales (NRW).

They were also given confiscation orders of more than £200,000 to be paid in six months to avoid an additional 32-month prison term.

Two employees of Nationwide Recycling were also sentenced for their involvement in the fraud on 5 July.

The South Wales recycler was raided in December 2010 by the Environment Agency and had its accreditation suspended following the issuing of PRNs against non-existent glass material worth more than £2.8m, according to NRW.

Fraudulent practices unveiled

Alongside the sentencing, NRW has disclosed details of how the fraudulent activity was carried out.

Nationwide Recycling weighed plant, machinery and lorries to generate false weighbridge tickets and invoices for recycled materials that was never received for recycling. It also falsified registrations of proposed vehicles bringing waste to the site.

“Following a vehicle check with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency), the investigation found one vehicle to be a Harley Davidson motorbike that had allegedly carried 29 tonnes of glass into the site,” said the NRW.

The investigation also found that the company’s directors were taking aluminium cans for recycling from local authorities, then selling the cans to local scrap dealers and keeping the cash. The money generated through fraudulently selling these cans is estimated at just under £300,000.

Market destabilisation

The scam had a significant impact on the PRN glass market, causing a spike in glass PRN prices and endangering the reaching of 2013 glass recycling targets, experts have told MRW.

“The actions of the offenders have undermined the recycling markets and industry which are vital to make sure the waste we all produce is not sent to landfill,” said Natural Resources Wales lead officer John Rock.

A Defra spokesperson told MRW: “Illegal waste operations pose a threat to both the environment and the vast majority of businesses that comply with the law. We have asked the Advisory Committee on Packaging to investigate the price spike and look at how we can reduce the likelihood of this happening again.”

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